An Iowa doctor is encouraging people, especially those over the age of 40, to check on the health of their kidneys. Dr. Robert Smith is the medical director of Fresenius Dialysis Center in Des Moines. He says kidney disease is one of the fastest growing causes of death in the United States.
"It’s becoming quite an epidemic, especially with the increased incidents of diabetes and high blood pressure, plus the addition of the baby boomers entering their fifth and sixth decades," Smith said. About 26 million people have kidney disease nationwide. Smith says many people don’t realize they’re developing the disease. He calls the kidney a "silent" organ.
Smith says in most circumstances there are no overt symptoms that an individual would notice when a kidney begins to decline in efficiency. Nationally, more than 100,000 people are diagnosed with end stage renal disease (ESRD) every year. At that point, the treatment involves dialysis or a transplant.
Smith says patients that receive a kidney transplant can expect to lead a fairly normal life. However, some 60,000 Americans are on a kidney transplant waiting list."There’s a big push now in the transplant community to do more living related donors…people that have relatives that may be able to donate kidneys, which is likely the best way to be transplanted and it does increase the life-span of the transplanted kidney in that circumstance," Smith said.
Kidney care providers, like Smith, are pushing for legislative action to boost kidney disease education and finance more research and prevention programs. March is " National Kidney Mo nth."