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Healthy kidneys, healthy life

March 10, 2016 | John Murray
Anatomy of the kidneys, ureters and bladder

World Kidney Day takes place every March, and UCI Health reminds you not to take your kidneys for granted.

“World Kidney Day is focused on the importance of kidneys and reducing the frequency and impact of kidney disease and it’s associated health problems,” says Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, MD, MPH, PhD, chief of the UCI Health Division of Nephrology and Hypertension and past member of The World Kidney Day Steering Committee.

We must all think about our kidneys from an early age and that much adult renal disease is actually rooted in childhood. Kalantar encourages people to act early to prevent kidney disease. Keeping fit reduces high blood pressure and obesity, two of the leading causes of kidney disease.

Kidney diseases affect millions

With 20 million people in the U.S. and 10 percent of the population worldwide having some form of kidney damage, there is a long road ahead to raise awareness about the dangers of kidney disease. The latest numbers show that Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is predicted to increase by 17 percent over the next decade and is now recognized by WHO and other organizations as a global public health issue.

Kidney diseases affect millions of people worldwide, including many children. Some children are born with kidney disease and others develop it when still very young. The symptoms of kidney disease in children are often nonspecific, which means that there is a risk that kidney problems may be missed in children.

In childhood the leading causes of kidney failure in children are hereditary conditions, often lacking obvious indicators, such as:

  • Hematuria (red blood cells in the urine)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Edema (swelling)

Additionally, kidney disease that becomes evident in adulthood may occur more often in persons with risk factors that can be detected in childhood.

Kidney care and UCI Health

UCI Health specialists are pioneers in the minimally invasive treatment of kidney conditions. Dr. Ralph V. Clayman, who in 1990 was the first to perform minimally invasive kidney surgery, has invented nearly a dozen devices for performing minimally invasive surgical procedures. He also specializes in the treatment of kidney stones, among the most common ailments of the urinary tract.

In recent years, Dr. Jaime Landman, chairman of the UCI Health Department of Urology, has been a leader in minimally invasive techniques to diagnose kidney cancer. Traditionally, the safest way to find out whether a kidney growth was cancerous has been to remove the entire kidney. Now, Landman and his team can use ultrasound to direct a biopsy without spreading malignant cells.

Keep your kidneys healthy

The steps you take to keep your kidneys healthy help keep the rest of your body healthy as well. According to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, here’s what you need to do to keep your kidneys healthy:

  • Monitor your blood pressure
  • Control your blood sugar level, especially if you have diabetes
  • Monitor your cholesterol levels
  • Take medication properly, according to the way your physician recommends
  • Limit your salt intake
  • Choose heart-healthy foods, including fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Be more physically active — exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Do not smoke

Learn more about preventing kidney disease


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