Know when it’s time for a kidney screening
When it comes to kidney disease, to screen or not to screen? That is the question. The short answer is yes—if you’re at an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease, that is. If you are, medical experts agree that you should undergo routine, annual kidney screening, because early detection can head off dialysis or kidney transplant and prolong life.
But how to know if you’re at risk? According to the National Kidney Foundation, “anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family history of chronic kidney disease” could be susceptible. That’s because over time diabetes and high blood pressure can damage the kidneys. And that damage may not manifest with any physical symptoms. That means one in three Americans—roughly 74 million people—should make a routine kidney screening part of their annual check-up. When detected early, chronic kidney disease (CKD) can be slowed, and more serious complications can be prevented.
Additionally, because our kidneys tend to work less effectively as we age, those over 60 and anyone with heart or peripheral vascular disease (hardening of the arteries) should be screened for CKD annually, as well as anyone of African American, Asian, Hispanic, American Indian, or Pacific Islander decent, or anyone diagnosed as obese.
There are two quick and easy tests to screen for chronic kidney disease: a blood kidney function test for creatinine (the waste a healthy kidney should filter from the blood) and a kidney damage test for protein in the urine (an early sign of CKD). These non-invasive and inexpensive tests determine how well your kidneys are filtering wastes from the blood, and whether products that should remain in the body, such as protein, are leaking into the urine.
If you have any of the risk factors mentioned above, you have a one-in-three chance of developing CKD. Chances are anyone reading this article is either part of that 33 percent who need to be getting screened, or know someone who is. If so, now’s a good time to schedule a screening appointment to make sure your kidneys are working as they should—and to prevent any further kidney damage.
By Mimi Greenwood Knight