Treating kidney disease early could help reduce deaths from heart disease
Targeted screening and treatment of kidney disease could help reduce the number of deaths from heart disease and strokes, according to the Kidney Alliance, a group representing patient and professional organisations.
The Kidney Alliance is using World Kidney Day, on 10th March 2011, to raise awareness of the fact that people diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease are at increased risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease (CVD), and the risk rises as the kidney disease worsens. Early diagnosis of kidney disease can improve outcomes for patients, and help ease the financial burden on the NHS. However, kidney disease is usually ‘silent’, showing no specific symptoms until it becomes more advanced; screening is often the only way the disease can be detected in its early stages. If diagnosed early, kidney disease can often be successfully managed through medication and lifestyle advice, delaying or preventing a move to dialysis. If diagnosed late, renal failure is complex, challenging and expensive to treat.
As Dr Richard Fluck, President-Elect of the British Renal Society, says: “Screening for kidney disease is extremely simple, requiring a blood test to measure kidney function, as well as a test to measure the amount of protein in the urine, as increased levels indicate kidney damage. People at high risk of CVD, such as those with diabetes or high blood pressure, should be screened routinely.”
It is believed that between 3 and 5 million people in England have some level of kidney damage, and although only a small proportion of these require dialysis and transplantation, the cost of these treatments accounts for around 2 per cent of the total NHS spend. Cardiovascular disease kills around 200,000 people in the UK every year and costs the NHS nearly £15 billion annually
To ensure that kidney care is identified and managed, it is vital that GP consortia, once they are fully operational, ensure that they have the right mix of skills to identify patients at the critical early stage. This needs to be supported by appropriate specialist teams, providing care to the more complex cases. The Alliance believes that, as the NHS undergoes change, dialysis and transplantation must remain a nationally commissioned specialised service. Kidney patients need to know that skills will not be lost and that consistent and high quality treatment will be supported and improved throughout the National Health Service.
”Screening for kidney disease is still not the norm for all those at risk. We need to change this, increase detection and raise awareness of kidney disease, especially for those with heart or circulatory problems, or a family history of kidney disease. As a kidney patient, I want to know that fewer people are moving onto dialysis, but I also need to know that there is an integrated service available for those who do need it“, comments Fiona Loud, Chair of the Kidney Alliance.
Dr Abraham Abraham, kidney doctor from Aintree University Hospitals, adds “Increased screening for kidney disease is a win-win situation. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent people developing heart problems and save them from a life on dialysis. More than ever before, it is vital that we ensure every penny spent in the NHS counts, and this is the perfect opportunity to streamline costs while improving patient outcomes.”
For more information and details of local activities running all over the UK to support World Kidney Day – please see www.worldkidneyday.co.uk