Celebrate World Kidney Day

The first of the Health Services Authority’s monthly columns in the Compass coincides with the 10 March World Kidney Day, marking the start of our kidney disease awareness campaign conducted in collaboration with Rotary Central.

Chronic kidney disease is a global public health problem.

Millions of people have CKD, but, sadly, most are not aware of their illness and are, therefore, at risk of kidney failure or death from heart attack and stroke.

Like the rest of the world the Cayman Islands also has a significant incidence of diabetes and hypertension, both of which are the major drivers of chronic kidney disease.

“The majority of individuals with early stages of CKD goes undiagnosed and has no symptoms,” says Dr. Nelson Iheonunekwu, Health Services Authority nephrologist.

“This is why early detection of kidney impairment is essential, allowing for appropriate interventions before kidney failure or other complications occur.

Failure to detect chronic kidney disease early not only leads to progression to kidney failure, but also increases the risk of dying from heart attack and stroke.”

Kidney diseases develop slowly, with symptoms appearing in the late stages of failure, when patients may find they need dialysis.

As such, screening must be a priority for anyone considered to be at high risk of kidney disease:

Patients with diabetes mellitus and hypertension

Individuals who are obese or smoke

Individuals more than 50 years old

Individuals with a family history of kidney disease, diabetes mellitus or hypertension

Screening may be as simple as a dip-stick test for the amount of protein in your urine or creatinine in the blood.

Early detection and treatment of CKD slows or halts the progression of patients to end-stage renal disease.

In addition, appropriate intervention in the early stages of CKD may significantly reduce the risk of dying from heart attack or stroke.

Maintaining kidney health is relatively easy using these seven simple steps:

If you smoke, stop. If you don’t, keep it that way.

If you already have diabetes, control your sugar levels

If you are already experiencing kidney complications, make sure you are in a doctor’s care

Drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water each day

Check your blood pressure regularly

Check your cholesterol regularly

Maintain a healthy weight

In addition, Dr. Iheonunekwu says: “Everyone should make sure they include apples, cauliflower, fish, cranberries and vitamins in their daily diet, and get plenty of exercise.”

Hoping to encourage individuals and the wider community to assume greater awareness of kidney health and greater responsibility for their own well-being, the HSA, with help from Rotary Central, are championing World Kidney Day through a series of activities, encouraging everyone to take a simple kidney-function test.

“Kidney diseases are silent killers, which will largely affect your quality of life. There are, however, several easy ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease,” Dr. Iheonunekwu says.

Today the HSA will start the day by offering an open house and free school tours of the Cayman Islands Hospital’s Dialysis Unit between 9am and 11am.

Between 11am and 1.30pm, free kidney screenings will be administered at the main entrance to George Town Hospital. Brochures and flyers on kidney health will be distributed at that time, while medical personnel and representatives from the Diabetes Association will be on hand to offer advice and answer questions.

Preventive care flyers will also be distributed via the Caymanian Compass to ensure those who were unable to attend are still able to see this vital information.

At 5pm, the hospital’s Hibiscus Conference Room will be the scene of a series of continuing medical education lectures for healthcare professionals.

Dr. Iheonunekwu will offer “An Overview of Chronic Kidney Disease”, followed by Dr. Lisa Hurlock, speaking on “Cardiovascular Implications of CKD”.

Dr. Iheonunekwu and guests will also appear on Cayman 27’s DayBreak and Radio Cayman’s Talk Today as a part of the HSA’s public education campaign.

“On World Kidney Day, we are calling on everyone to check if they are at risk for kidney disease and encouraging more people to take a simple kidney function test,” Dr Iheonunekwu said.

“Screening is essential for people considered to be at risk for kidney disease. Early detection of kidney impairment is essential, and will allow suitable treatment before kidney damage or deterioration manifests itself through other complications.”

For more information call 244-2700 or reserve a seat by emailing [email protected]