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Diabetes and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

If you have diabetes, get your urine tested every year to look for kidney disease. Your doctor should do a creatinine blood test to check how these organs are working. He’ll also check your blood pressure regularly. It’s key to slowing this disease. Your reading should be less than 130/80. Approximately 1 of 3 adults with diabetes and 1 of 5 adults with high blood pressure may have CKD.

Fast Facts: About 37 million US adults are estimated to have CKD and most are undiagnosed.

Diabetes can cause kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD). Your kidneys, each just the size of a computer mouse, filter all the blood in your body every 30 minutes. They work hard to remove wastes, toxins, and excess fluid. They also help control blood pressure, stimulate the production of red blood cells, keep your bones healthy, and regulate blood chemicals that are essential to life. Kidneys that function properly are critical for maintaining good health, however, more than one in seven American adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Fast Facts: Kidney diseases are the ninth leading cause of death in the United States.

CKD is a condition in which the kidneys are damaged and cannot filter blood as well as they should. Because of this, excess fluid and waste from blood remain in the body and may cause other health problems, such as heart disease and stroke. Some other health consequences of CKD include:

  • Anemia or a low number of red blood cells
  • Increased occurrence of infections
  • Low calcium levels, high potassium levels, and high phosphorus levels in the blood
  • Loss of appetite or eating less
  • Depression or lower quality of life

CKD has varying levels of seriousness. It usually gets worse over time though treatment has been shown to slow progression. If left untreated, CKD can progress to kidney failure and early cardiovascular disease. When the kidneys stop working, dialysis or kidney transplant is needed for survival. Kidney failure treated with dialysis or kidney transplant is called end-stage renal disease (ESRD)

Fast Facts: 48% of people with severely reduced kidney function and not on dialysis are not aware of even having CKD.

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to prevent kidney problems, including keeping your blood sugar and blood pressure under control. Having kidney disease increases the chances of having heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Not all patients with kidney disease progress to kidney failure.

Fast Facts: Every 24 hours, about 340 people begin dialysis treatment for kidney failure.

How to find out if you have kidney problems?

  • Ask your doctor to test your blood and your pee.
  • If the doctor finds protein (albumin) in your pee, it is a sign of the start of kidney disease caused by diabetes.
  • Get tested yearly.
  • Get tested more often if:

    • Your test shows protein in your pee or;
    • Your kidneys are not working as they usually do

Taking precautions with Diabetes

  • Meet blood sugar targets as often as you can.
  • Get tested for your average level of blood sugar over the past three months (A1C test).
  • Get your A1C test at least twice a year, but ideally up to four times a year.
  • If your blood pressure is high, check it regularly and get it under control to make sure your kidneys stay healthy.
  • Talk to your doctor about medicines that harm your kidneys and other ways to lower your blood pressure.

Healthy Habits

  • Eating healthier and getting regular exercise can improve your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol. That will affect how hard your kidneys have to work. Your doctor may suggest cutting back on protein, salt, and fat in your diet.
  • Keep your blood pressure below 140/90, or ask your doctor what the best blood pressure target is for you.
  • Stay in your target cholesterol range.
  • Eat foods lower in salt.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Stay active.
  • Take your medications as directed.

Preventing Kidney Failure

  • Get tested for CKD regularly if you are at risk.
  • Find it early. Treat it early.
  • Ask your doctor to test your blood or pee. If you have diabetes, get tested yearly.
  • Check your blood glucose regularly at home so you can keep your diabetes in check. You may also want to track your blood pressure so you can control it if it gets high.
  • If you have diabetes, stay in your target blood sugar range as much as possible.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Get active. Physical activity helps control blood sugar levels.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Getting a checkup? Make sure to get your kidneys checked too.
  • Take medications as directed.
  • If you have CKD, meet with a dietitian to make a kidney-healthy eating plan.
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