Kidney Damage – Are You at Risk?

Kidney Health Awareness Day at Pak N Save – Mt. Albert (Photo Supplied)

Dr Malini Yugendran
Auckland, March 24, 2023

Kidney Health New Zealand, a non-profit organisation, marked World Kidney Day by organising a Kidney Health Awareness Day at Pak N Save – Mt. Albert. The event aimed to raise awareness about kidney health, offer free kidney checks, and encourage early detection and prevention measures for underlying causes that can damage the kidneys.

World Kidney Day is a yearly global campaign that takes place on the second Thursday of March every year. This year, 9 March 2023 marked the date for the annual World Kidney Day event.

Raising Awareness About Kidneys

The goal of the World Kidney Day campaign is to raise awareness about the significance of our kidneys and the risk factors that can cause chronic kidney disease (CKD), such as diabetes and high blood pressure. “It is essential to encourage systematic screening of all patients, visitors, and whanau who have diabetes, hypertension, urinalysis, and other blood tests. Kidneys are vital for good health, so early detection and prevention measures for underlying causes that can damage the kidneys are crucial to preserving existing kidney function,” said Fredric Susil Doss, Haemodialysis Educator and Professional Leader-Renal Physiology.

Fredric Susil Doss, Haemodialysis Educator and Professional Leader-Renal Physiology (Photo Supplied)

Kidney Health Awareness Day at Pak N Save – Mt. Albert

Members of Te Whatu Ora from Auckland City Hospital celebrated Kidney Health Awareness Day on March 9th, 2023, with valuable support from Kidney Health New Zealand. The Tui Dialysis Unit Renal Physiologists and Registered Nurses, along with the Renal leadership representatives, screened approximately 300 individuals at Pak N Save Mt. Albert. The participants were from diverse ethnic backgrounds, including Māori, Pacifica, Asians, and Indians.

Mr Doss said, “more than 10% of the participants were either hypertensive or diabetic.”

The team also performed kidney function tests, including eGFR and creatinine, for more than 50 people. The individuals who had abnormal results were referred to their GP for further follow-up.

Mr Doss stated, “the renal team members of Te Whatu Ora from Auckland City Hospital have been observing World Kidney Day for several years at various locations like malls, marae, and hospital receptions to create awareness about kidney health. This year, we had a booth for the first time at Pak N Save, and it was a success.”

More than 300 participated in Kidney Health Awareness Day (Photo Supplied)

Early Detection and Prevention

Kidney disease is a significant public health issue in New Zealand, with approximately 4,000 people receiving dialysis or kidney transplants and 1 in 10 adults affected by some form of chronic kidney disease, according to the Ministry of Health. The prevalence of CKD is even higher among certain groups, including Māori and Pacific peoples, who are at increased risk of developing the disease and experiencing poorer health outcomes.

The National Renal Advisory Board has been working to address this issue by providing guidance on prevention, treatment, and management of kidney disease. The board’s research has emphasised the importance of increasing awareness, early detection, and effective management of CKD to improve outcomes and reduce the burden of kidney disease in New Zealand.

Kidney failure not only affects the diagnosed individual but also their family, friends, and colleagues, and most people go through several emotional stages before accepting changes in their health. Early detection and prevention measures can help preserve existing kidney function and improve quality of life.

Kidney Health New Zealand

Kidney Health New Zealand (KHNZ) is a non-profit organisation founded in 1979 that relies on public contributions for support. The organisation aims to provide education and support in the recognition of the symptoms of kidney disease, resource information concerning the treatment and management of patients with kidney disease, and coordinate, advocate, and fund research into the prevention, early detection, and cure of kidney disease.

KHNZ also promotes the donation of kidneys and other organs and tissue for transplantation and liaises with and supports patient support groups.

Common Kidney Diseases and Conditions

The kidneys play a vital role in filtering waste from our body, maintaining the right balance of minerals and fluids, and regulating blood pressure. However, various diseases and conditions can affect kidney function, leading to kidney failure. Here are some of the most common kidney diseases and conditions:

Diabetes: This is the leading cause of kidney failure, damaging the filtering membranes in the kidney and increasing the risk of high blood pressure, which can also cause renal failure.

High Blood Pressure: Chronic kidney disease and high blood pressure have a reciprocal relationship; if not treated, it can lead to kidney damage and exacerbate hypertension.

Kidney Stones: These are solid crystals that form in the kidneys and can cause blockages, infections, and kidney damage.

Nephritis: This is an inflammation of the filtering units of the kidneys, and the body’s immune system often causes it.

Polycystic Kidney Disease: PKD is a genetic condition where abnormal fluid-filled cysts grow in the kidneys and cause kidney failure.

Reflux Nephropathy: This is a form of kidney failure associated with the backflow of urine from the bladder into the kidneys.

For more information and support, contact Kidney Health New Zealand.

Dr Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Auckland.

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