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Treating kidney disease early could help reduce deaths from heart disease

Based on Kidney Alliance Press Release 8 March 2011

WKD 2011 logoTargeted screening and treatment of kidney disease could help reduce the number of deaths from heart disease and strokes, according to the Kidney Alliance, a group representing patient and professional organisations.

The Kidney Alliance is using World Kidney Day, on 10th March 2011, to raise awareness of the fact that people diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease are at increased risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease (CVD), and the risk rises as the kidney disease worsens. Early diagnosis of kidney disease can improve outcomes for patients, and help ease the financial burden on the NHS. However, kidney disease is usually ‘silent’, showing no specific symptoms until it becomes more advanced; screening is often the only way the disease can be detected in its early stages. If diagnosed early, kidney disease can often be successfully managed through medication and lifestyle advice, delaying or preventing a move to dialysis. If diagnosed late, renal failure is complex, challenging and expensive to treat.

As Dr Richard Fluck, President-Elect of the British Renal Society, says: “Screening for kidney disease is extremely simple, requiring a blood test to measure kidney function, as well as a test to measure the amount of protein in the urine, as increased levels indicate kidney damage. People at high risk of CVD, such as those with diabetes or high blood pressure, should be screened routinely.”

It is believed that between 3 and 5 million people in England have some level of kidney damage, and although only a small proportion of these require dialysis and transplantation, the cost of these treatments accounts for around 2 per cent of the total NHS spend. Cardiovascular disease kills around 200,000 people in the UK every year and costs the NHS nearly