I normally finish most speaking engagements saying, “Nobody cares about kidneys until they fail.” And from my perspective, it’s the most accurate assessment of kidney disease.
I have served as the executive director of the Mississippi Kidney Foundation for a little more than a year, and I am always excited to educate people about kidneys. Our kidneys are in our lower back, and this small vital organ is normally about the size of a computer mouse. Our kidney’s function serves to clean the blood, help control blood pressure, help make red blood cells and keep bones healthy.
Chronic kidney disease is an increasingly common but usually preventable condition. More than 37 million Americans have kidney disease and millions more are at risk. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nine out of 10 people with early kidney disease don’t know they have it because it usually has no symptoms until the late stages. Simple blood and urine tests can tell how well the kidneys are working, but kidney disease often goes overlooked.
About 555,000 people in America are currently on dialysis and nearly 230,000 are living with kidney transplants, creating a whopping 100% increase since 2000. Mississippi currently ranks 49th in kidney disease with more than 8,000 people currently depending on dialysis to live and another 2,000, including me, depend on a kidney transplant to survive.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nine out of 10 people with early kidney disease don’t know they have it because it usually has no symptoms until the late stages,” Mississippi Kidney Foundation Executive Director Thomas Mayfield writes. Photo courtesy the Mississippi Kidney Foundation
The American Kidney Fund found that the three leading causes of kidney failure are diabetes, hypertension and obesity, and Mississippi currently ranks in the bottom three in all three categories. Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States, with kidney disease oftentimes leading to congestive heart failure, heart attacks and strokes.
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