March is National Kidney Month

March 7, 2012

If you have high blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of kidney disease, you're at risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD). But there is some good news. With a healthy diet and regular exercise, preventing CKD is not as difficult as you might think.

March is National Kidney Month. Here are some prevention tips from the National Kidney Foundation.

Healthy Eating

  • Fruit (fresh or dried)
  • Unsalted nuts
  • Fiber bars
  • Vegetables
  • Soy milk
  • Keep snacks like chips and cookies to a minimum

Exercise

  • Be sure to get 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 times a week. Of that, 10 minutes at least 2 or 3 times a week should include light weight training.
  • If you have trouble with your back or joints, swimming or walking in water will help achieve good cardio performance. Swimming is the best physical activity of all because it keeps all weight off the joints, causing no wear and tear.
  • Take the stairs wherever possible, instead of riding the elevator or escalator.
  • Get in the habit of biking or walking, rather than driving, while running errands or heading to appointments.
  • If you're planning to do highly vigorous physical activity, stay well-hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids and keep a water bottle handy.

Know Your Risks

  • Of the more than 113,000 Americans currently awaiting organ transplants, 91,000 are waiting for a kidney.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44% of the new cases. Nearly 215,000 people are living with kidney failure resulting from diabetes.
  • Uncontrolled or poorly controlled high blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure in the country, accounting for 26% of all cases.
  • The third and fourth leading causes of kidney failure in the U.S. are glomerulonephritis, an inflammatory disease of the kidneys, and polycystic kidney disease.
  • CKD hits minorities disproportionately, with African Americans affected at a rate of nearly three times that of Caucasians as the number of new cases of kidney failure per million is 783 for African Americans and 295 for whites. Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and the elderly are also at increased risk.
  • Each year, more than 88,000 Americans die from causes related to kidney failure.
  • CKD continues to be a major cause of lost productivity, physician visits and hospitalizations among men and women.

Do you think you may be at risk for kidney disease? Find out by taking the kidney quiz on the National Kidney Foundation's website.