The incidence of kidney failure in some Aboriginal communities is 30 times that of the national average. Don’t let it happen to you.
Kidney disease in Indigenous communities is now been proclaimed as a “national tragedy”, according to Kidney Health Australia. The only way that this tragedy can be reversed is through early detection and prevention programs.
Your kidneys are major bodily organs that clean your blood by filtering waste, removing excess water and maintaining a proper balance of salts and acids in your body. Kidneys also produce important hormones that produce red blood cells (which carry oxygen through the blood) and control blood pressure and calcium uptake.
If your kidneys aren’t working properly, waste products and extra fluid build up in your body. If your kidneys stop working completely it’s known as end stage kidney disease. Indigenous Australians tend to develop end stage kidney disease at a younger age than non-Indigenous Australians.
“There has been a dramatic increase in the incidence of kidney failure in Aboriginal people over the last 20 years with the prevalence doubling every four to five years in many communities,” says Dr Tim Mathew, Medical Director of Kidney Health Australia.
“ This is a health time bomb waiting to explode.”
Early detection of kidney disease can prevent or delay the progression of the illness. Screening of high-risk patients is one way to beat this disease.
Am I at risk?
If you answer yes to one or more of these questions you are at increased risk and should be tested for signs of kidney disease:
Do you suffer from diabetes?
Do you suffer from hypertension?
Do you have a family history of kidney disease?
Are you over 50?
Are you a smoker?
If you are at risk, ask your doctor or Aboriginal Medical Service to perform these tests:
A urine test;
A blood pressure check;
A blood test.
If you get the all-clear, there are plenty of ways that you can keep yourself and your kidneys healthy:
Eat lots of fruit and vegetables;
Drink lots of water;
Cut down on salty and fatty foods;
Get some regular exercise;
Drink alcohol only in moderation.
For more information or for advice, call the Kidney Info Line on 1800 682 531 or go to www.kidney.org.au