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News 2009
Regular Blood and Urine Tests Necessary to Screen for Kidney Disease

March 11, 2009

Kidney failure is caused by slow, progressive and often silent chronic kidney disease and is a result of kidneys losing their ability to remove excess fluids, minerals and wastes from the blood. Once this happens a person's options are limited to extremely expensive dialysis or a kidney transplant. The average cost of dialysis treatment is over Rs. 300,000 a year, while the cost of a kidney transplant is approximately Rs. 400,000, excluding other treatment costs. These procedures are simply unaffordable for the vast majority of Pakistani families. But kidney disease is treatable and early detection can keep kidney disease from getting worse and can prevent the need for dialysis or a transplant. In anticipation of World Kidney Day, to be held on March 12, 2009, doctors at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) shared common concerns around kidney disease.

Simple urine and blood tests can detect early signs of kidney problems and should become part of public health programmes. According to research, led by Dr Tazeen Jafar, Head, Section of Nephrology, AKUH, one in three adults in Pakistan over the age of 40 has some form of kidney disease, caused mainly by diabetes and high blood pressure. Because of this statistic, Dr Waqar Kashif, Consultant Nephrologist, underscored the need for the frequent monitoring of blood pressure in adults.

The symptoms of advanced kidney failure include weight and appetite loss, weakness and nausea. Dr Absar Ali, Consultant Nephrologist, emphasised the need to ensure that people with kidney failure receive adequate dialysis. As the survival rate of patients on dialysis is low - 55 per cent of people receiving dialysis for one year will survive, but the rate falls to 13 per cent after five years of dialysis ­– kidney transplants are now the treatment of choice and have a 97 per cent success rate, according to Dr Ather Hussain, Consultant Nephrologist. In all cases of kidney disease, regular exercise, monitoring blood glucose levels, maintaining a diet low in saturated fats and salt, and quitting smoking are advised.

The number of children in Pakistan who develop kidney stones is also growing. Dr Raziuddin Biyabani, Head, Section of Urology, mentioned that the causes of kidney stones range from dehydration to dietary imbalance, and symptoms include abdominal pain and blood in the urine. Monitoring this condition is essential as kidney stones recur with greater frequency over time and may decrease the life expectancy of young children. When treating children with kidney disease, Dr Arshalooz Rahman, Consultant Paediatrician, mentioned that health care providers must also look for other health problems such as anaemia and high blood pressure, conditions commonly found in children with advanced kidney diseases.

To highlight the issues, signs and symptoms surrounding kidney disease, AKUH will be hosting a public awareness programme on World Kidney Day. The event will be held at the University's auditorium and is open to the general public.

For more information, please contact:
Hassaan Akhter, Media Executive, Department of Public Affairs, Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, Karachi, on +92 21 3486-2927 or mailto:hassaan.akhter@aku.edu