Kidney screening may prevent rude awakening

“Way too many people have no idea their kidneys can be affected by diabetes and high blood pressure.”

— Danielle Estep, National Kidney Foundation

Two of five people who go on permanent dialysis aren’t even aware they have kidney disease until the week before their first treatment begins.

To help lessen the number of rude awakenings and extend the lives of people’s kidneys, the American Kidney Foundation serving Ohio and Kentucky will hold a screening program Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Life Enrichment Center, 425 N. Findlay St., Dayton.

The free Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP) is for people 18 or older who have high blood pressure, diabetes or sibling or parent with diabetes, high blood pressure or chronic kidney failure.

To schedule an appointment, call Danielle Estep at (800) 242-2133.

“There are way too many people who don’t know their kidneys can be affected by diabetes and high blood pressure”, said Estep, division program director for the NKF Serving Ohio and Kentucky.

A former hospital and dialysis center social worker, Estep said the ratio of people who don’t even know they have kidney disease until survival requires that they have impurities filtered from their blood by dialysis “rings true” with her experience.

Sometimes, an older person will be brought to a doctor of hospital in a confused state because failed kidneys have allowed toxins to build up in the body.

In that circumstance, Estep said, they’re often told the good news is that they don’t have Alzheimer’s Disease but the bad news is their kidneys have failed and they’ll have to go on dialysis.

“Once your kidneys fail, your body cannot continue to function without treatment,” she said.

Because African-Americans and Hispanics have higher rates of high blood pressure and diabetes, Estep said, they also are at higher risk for kidney failure. African-Americans suffer from kidney disease more than three times at the rate of whites, Hispanics at double the rate of non-Hispanic whites.

Driven by the increase in obesity rates, kidney failure has nearly doubled in the nine years the NKF has held its screening program in Dayton.

Particularly startling are increased rates among the young.

“We have a lot more kids and teenagers being diagnosed with Type II diabetes,” Estep said, something once unheard of.

The good news, she said, is that once diagnosed, “there’s a lot you can do” through diet and treatment to slow the progress of kidney disease.

At Thursday’s screening, which will include blood pressure, urinalysis and blood tests, “we will be able to tell the person their Kidney Score,” Estep said, and provide recommendations.

About 15,000 Ohioans are on dialysis and 2,500 Ohioans on waiting lists for kidney transplants. Nationwide, more than 400,000 are on dialysis and 90,000 are awaiting transplants.

An estimated 26 million Americans have kidney disease, Estep added, and “millions aren’t even aware.”