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Lima Memorial Health Focus: Kidney Disease, An Often Unrecognized Killer

Lima Memorial Health Focus: Kidney Disease, An Often Unrecognized Killer

posted on: 8/22/2017 9:26:59 AM

Health & Fitness Guest Columnist

G. Allen Bryant III, MD
Medical Director of Specialty Services and Co-Medical Director of Renal Services
Lima Memorial Internal Medicine & Kidney Specialists

Kidney disease is an often unrecognized killer in Lima and in the United States. A diagnosis of kidney disease means that a person’s kidneys are damaged and cannot filter blood the way they should. Major risk factors for kidney disease include age, race (African Americans / Hispanics), high blood pressure, diabetes and family history. If you have kidney disease, it increases your lifetime risk of developing a heart attack or a stroke. It is estimated that roughly 14 percent of the US population (26 million Americans) have kidney disease in some way, shape or form. Unfortunately, all too often, kidney disease goes undiagnosed as most of the symptoms do not develop until the kidney disease is quite advanced.

It is imperative that adults with high blood pressure and diabetes be screened for kidney disease by their primary care provider. This can be done effectively by doing a history and physical and some laboratory testing at a yearly visit to your provider. The results can be discussed between the patient and the provider and decisions can be made mutually about what can be done.

“Nothing can be done for my kidneys” is a fallacy statement often made by patients that needs to be addressed. While often it is the case that kidney disease cannot be reversed, multiple interventions have been statistically proven to slow the progression of kidney disease. Damaged kidneys due to diabetes (the most common cause of kidney disease) usually cannot be reversed; however, further progression on to total kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant can often be slowed or even halted.

Dialysis is often a procedure ordered to remove toxins and fluids from the patient when their kidneys can no longer do so. Patients are either on “in-center hemodialysis” or home dialysis therapies. Patients on in-center hemodialysis come to a dialysis center usually three times a week for 4 hour session. There are roughly 500,000 Americans on dialysis and another 195,000 Americans living with a transplanted kidney here in the United States.

Lima Memorial Hospital was the first to offer this lifesaving procedure when it opened a four station outpatient unit on March 12, 1973. In February of 1983, the first peritoneal dialysis (home dialysis) program opened at LMH. Since that time, LMH has provided 352,427 hemodialysis treatments and 137,485 peritoneal dialysis treatments. We currently have 43 patients in the pre-kidney transplant program and 128 patients in the pre-dialysis program. We follow these patients very carefully for the development of end stage kidney failure that requires immediate attention.

In addition to our outpatient unit, LMH allows cardiovascular, surgical, and radiologic specialists to perform many procedures safely by having a very active and attentive renal consultative service. As medicine advances, various new procedures and techniques can now be done here a LMH which carry the risk of developing acute kidney failure. Should kidney injury happen (very rarely), these patients can be cared for here at LMH by board certified nephrologists who are capable of providing dialysis in a timely and effective manner. Unless we were able to provide this important service, many of these procedures could not be offered here safely.

It has been a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of the Lima medical community since 2006. I hope this article will raise the level of awareness for detecting kidney disease amongst providers and will also raise the level of suspicion amongst patients particularly those with risk factors present. Should providers or patients want to learn more about Lima Memorial’s renal program, they are welcome to call 419-998-8255, or stop by our office in Professional Office Building II, Suite 220 on Lima Memorial’s main campus.

Originally published in The Lima News Health and Fitness section.

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