March 10 was World Kidney Day 2016 and it’s important to think about, as there are many things that affect the kidneys, including kidney stones, chronic kidney disease, iron deficiency, and atherosclerosis. World Kidney Day has been going on for over 10 years, bringing to light the many issues affecting the kidneys along with making practitioners and patients more aware of kidney problems.
World Kidney Day’s mission statement is, “… to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.”
Here at Bel Marra Health, we also want to keep you informed about your kidneys and overall health, so we put together our popular stories regarding the kidneys and kidney problems for you to become aware of the risks in order to better prevent them.
Kidney stones in childhood raise the risk of atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries – as shown in a study published in The Journal of Pediatrics. A more profound understanding of the link between kidney stones and atherosclerosis in children can offer better prevention methods to reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other vascular diseases.
Previously believed to be an isolated health condition, kidney stones are becoming increasingly common in children. Research has found a link between kidney stones and atherosclerosis in adults, but this is the first study to examine the link in children.
Lead author Kirsten Kusumi said, “If the processes of kidney stone formation and hardening of the arteries are somehow linked in adults, it makes sense that a similar link may exist in children, despite the fact that people don’t associate heart and vascular diseases with kids. We wanted to learn whether and why children who have kidney stones may already be showing damage to their arteries.”
The study used ultrasounds to compare and evaluate artery thickness in 15 children with kidney stones and 15 without. None of the children were diagnosed with conditions known to contribute to atherosclerosis, thus revealing the association between damage to the arteries and childhood kidney stones. Continue reading…
Kidney patients are often given anemia medication, but new findings suggest that it may do very little to improve their well-being. The anemia drugs are called erythropoietin-stimulating agents (ESAs), and the findings work to back up the current implemented guidelines on using ESAs.
Senior researcher Dr. Navdeep Tangri said, patients may still benefit from the medications as they reduce the need for blood transfusions, but added, “This should close the book on the idea that these drugs help with exhaustion and improve patients’ quality of life.”
Anemia is common in chronic kidney disease, and so ESAs are normally prescribed to help treat anemia. Other findings suggested that raising hemoglobin beyond a certain level with ESAs resulted in an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and blood clots.
The study reviewed 17 clinical trials with results reaffirming the current knowledge of the dangers surrounding ESAs. Researchers believe that overall well-being does not improve, because oftentimes patients are older, live a sedentary lifestyle, and have other medical conditions aside from chronic kidney disease.
When patients are younger and more active, ESAs are found to help overall well-being. Raising hemoglobin levels beyond nine in these patients does show benefits. Continue reading…
A new online tool is designed to estimate kidney failure risk in chronic kidney disease. The online tool combines results of common medical tests and can estimate with high accuracy the risk of a person developing kidney failure within two to five years if they already have chronic kidney disease. The tool not only helps distinguish a high-risk patient for kidney failure, but offers peace of mind for those living with chronic kidney disease of knowing if they are at risk or not.
Estimates of Americans diagnosed with chronic kidney disease are over 20 million and 660,000 have kidney failure. Dr. Josef Coresh, researcher in the study, said, “This tool allows doctors to sit down with their patients and explain how likely it is that their kidneys will fail in the near future. While the tool can aid in management of a patient’s disease and prepare them for the worst, many more patients will find the results reassuring. You can reassure a lot of worried people with the fact that their risk is actually very low. The vast majority of patients will not need dialysis.”
The original tool was first created by Canadian researchers, but it was criticized for lack of data on African Americans who have high rates of chronic kidney disease. With the new model, more data is entered covering all races and ethnicities allowing it to be more accurate. Continue reading…
Sleep deprivation and kidney disease have been found to increase the risk of each other. New research was conducted on women and found that those who slept five hours a night or less had a 65 percent higher risk of developing kidney disease.
To complete the study, researchers examined the sleep habits of thousands of women. Their findings compared women who slept for five hours or less to those who slept for seven hours or more. Lead researcher, Dr. Ciaran McMullan said, “This is concerning because as a general population the amount of sleep we are getting has decreased over the last 20 years.”
Previous reports of American sleep habits revealed that we used to achieve eight hours a night, but now the country average is 6.5 hours.
The researchers did not determine if improving sleep could reverse or improve kidney function. Additionally, Dr. McMullan cautions that the research only shows an association between sleep deprivation and kidney disease and does not reveal cause and effect. Previous research revealed that a lack of sleep could contribute to heart disease.
Dr. McMullan suggests that a lack of sleep contributes to poor kidney function because it increases the risk of other ailments that can impair the kidneys, such as diabetes. He said, “Diabetes occurs more often in people who sleep less, as does high blood pressure. We know that two of the greatest factors that decrease kidney function are diabetes and high blood pressure.” Continue reading…
Anemia, a condition caused by iron deficiency, has been linked to chronic kidney disease. When the body does not produce enough red blood cells, it can lead to anemia. Red blood cells are the cells that carry oxygen around the body. When there is a shortage of red blood cells, it means fewer cells can convert glucose from food into energy, thus causing feelings of fatigue, weakness, and overall tiredness, because the body does not have enough energy to perform its many tasks.
To treat anemia, iron supplements are often prescribed, along with a diet of iron-rich foods like red meat or kale. If anemia goes untreated, then major organs, such as our heart and brain, can become affected. Research also shows that it is linked to chronic kidney disease as well. Continue reading…