How to Prevent Chronic Kidney Disease

March is National Kidney Awareness Month, and Blacks have a three to four times higher chance to suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD) than whites. Unlike other diseases, kidney disease doesn’t reveal itself until it’s too late. Often time people that are suffering from CKD aren’t aware of it, and by the time they do become aware of it, the effects are almost irreversible.

It’s important to know that it’s possible to live with kidney disease, and it doesn’t always mean you’ll progress to end-stage kidney failure. Dr. Mariella Ortigosa-Goggins, medical director of the kidney and pancreas transplant program at the Miami Transplant Institute, talks to us about early detection and prevention.

Early Detection
Early detection is crucial in maintaining and slowing down the progression of kidney disease. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney failure in the Black community. Someone can live many years without being aware that they’re diabetic or suffering from hypertension, and an early diagnosis can go a long way in maintaining a healthy functioning kidney and prevent end-stage kidney disease.

“Chronic kidney disease can be a silent disease,” said Dr. Ortigosa-Goggins. “The best way to detect early onset kidney disease is by visiting your primary doctor routinely. A blood and urine test can reveal how well your kidneys are functioning. Prevention is always the best medicine.”

Healthy Lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle can help avoid the progression of kidney disease and reduce your blood pressure. By exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding foods high in salt, it’s easier to maintain a good blood pressure, which will help with your kidneys.

“After being diagnosed with kidney disease, a combination of a proper diet and exercise routine, and avoiding over-the-counter medications that affect the kidneys can help maintain the function of your kidneys for a longer time, and can keep you off the transplant list and dialysis,” continued Dr. Ortigosa-Goggins.

Living with CKD
If left untreated, kidney disease may be life changing, but it’s possible to live with it. After diagnosis, it’s imperative to monitor your kidney function and ask your doctor to be referred to the kidney transplant list. At any point, the kidney function drops below 20 percent of its normal function, patients may be placed on the waiting list for kidney transplant. If the kidney function drops to 10 to 15 percent, then dialysis is needed. Being proactively placed on a transplant list can significantly increase your chances of receiving a kidney, which can add many years to your lifespan.

In addition, you can also learn about different types of kidney transplants, which can involve receiving a kidney from a living donor or a deceased donor. A healthy person can be eligible to donate one of their kidneys.

Your kidneys are important to living an overall healthy life, and taking care of them should be a top priority. Getting tested is the only way to know if your kidneys are healthy, so on your next visit to the doctor, speak with them about having your kidneys examined for any potential signs of CKD.

Mariella Ortigosa-Goggins, MD, is the medical director of the kidney and pancreas transplant program at the Miami Transplant Institute and is an associate professor of medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. For more information or to request an appointment with the Miami Transplant Institute, call 305-585-1MTI (1684).