"Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure in the United States and is increasing more rapidly," said Thomas Hostetter, MD, director of the National Kidney Disease Education Program (NKDEP). In an effort to raise awareness about the seriousness of kidney disease, the NKDEP has launched the "You Have the Power to Prevent Kidney Disease" campaign. The campaign stresses 3 key messages. They are as follows: (1) know if you are at risk, (2) have your kidneys tested if you are at risk, and (3) kidney failure can be slowed or prevented if kidney disease is detected early.
Statistics indicate that approximately 20 million Americans have kidney disease, and the main risk factors for kidney disease are diabetes, hypertension, and a family history of kidney disease. African Americans are 4 times more likely than Caucasians to develop kidney disease.
Because kidney failure is treatable if detected early, "people need to be tested at least once a year," Dr. Hostetter said. There are simple tests to detect kidney disease. Examples include a urine test to look for the protein albumin and a blood screen to look at the filtration function of the kidney. Aside from brochures for patients and families, the NKDEP is producing print and radio public service announcements and determining what other groups the program needs to reach. The NKDEP is an initiative of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, one of the National Institutes of Health. For additional information, visit www.nkdep.nih.gov.