Chronic kidney disease often goes undetected affecting quality of life with patients not exhibiting any symptoms until over three-quarters of kidney function is lost. “Chronic Kidney Disease is a progressive condition in which the kidneys lose their function over a period of months or years,” said Dr Waqar Kashif, Associate Professor and Section Head of Nephrology, AKUH. He was addressing a gathering of experts at Aga Khan University Hospital to mark World Kidney Day.
CKD can develop at any age but it becomes more common with increasing age. In addition to the natural aging of the kidneys, many conditions which damage the kidneys are more common in older people including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. It is estimated that about one in five men and one in four women between the ages of 65 and 74 have kidney disease.
“In short, the older you get the more likely you are to have kidney disease. This is important because CKD increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, and in some cases can progress to kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplantation,” explained Dr Muhammad Abdul Mabood Khalil of AKUH.
According to studies about 1 in 10 people have some degree of CKD across the world with the disease being more prevalent for those people from South Asia such as, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. The main predisposing factors being the prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure within the population.
“High blood pressure and diabetes account for 75 per cent of all kidney failure patients on dialysis. Kidney disease is treatable if detected early. Early diagnosis and careful treatment can keep kidney disease from getting worse and can prevent or at least delay the need for dialysis or a transplant,” added Dr Kashif.
When the kidneys fail, a patient has three treatment choices - haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Haemodialysis cleans and filters your blood using a machine to temporarily rid your body of harmful wastes, extra salt and extra water. Haemodialysis is usually done three times a week and each treatment lasts from three to four hours.
Peritoneal dialysis is another procedure that removes wastes. Haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis are treatments that help replace the work the kidneys do. “These treatments are very expensive. They help you feel better and live longer, but they don’t cure kidney failure. Kidney transplant is the treatment of choice for patients with kidney failure and it is important for families of patients to come forward and donate one of their kidneys to their family member,” said Dr Sonia Yaqub of AKUH.
Renal stone disease in Pakistan is a significant preventable cause of chronic kidney disease pointed out Consultant Urologists at AKUH, highlighting that the country lies in the ‘stone belt’. Figures reflect up to 200 cases per 100,000 people in the southern regions. In order to prevent kidney stones increasing intake of fluids, decreasing protein in the diet and eating in moderation are advised.
Discussing kidney diseases in children, Dr Iqtidar Khan, Paediatrician at AKUH said, “Diagnosis of urinary tract infection in children is important for the early detection and prevention of chronic kidney disease in children. Warning signs of kidney disease in children include high blood pressure, pain in the back, puffy eyes, swollen hands and feet and bloody urine.” He stressed the importance of early investigation on any suspicion of kidney disease or infection.