World Kidney Day 2010

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Happy World Kidney Day! Celebrated every year in March, World Kidney Day is a day devoted to raising awareness of kidney disease across the globe. This year promised to be a huge success: cities throughout the world, from Bahrain to Belgium, held kidney awareness events, and celebrities such as Tom Hanks and French President Nicolas Sarkozy jumped on the kidney awareness bandwagon to lend their support to the cause. Besides raising awareness of our “amazing kidneys”, the day’s objectives were to encourage screening for CKD, recognize the importance of risk factors in the development of kidney disease, and encourage preventive behaviors. This year’s theme was “Protect Your Kidneys: Control Diabetes,” in order to place special emphasis on the growing prevalence of diabetic renal disease. Tackling the problem of CKD is no small job. The last NHANES survey in 2009 estimates the U.S. prevalence of CKD stage II-V at 13%. While less prevalent in the developing world, CKD is expected to become a much greater problem due to the rapidly increasing rates of diabetes (an 85% increase in Central and South America, and 75% in the Western Pacific region, by 2025), not to mention hypertension. CKD has far-reaching effects on patient outcomes: for Medicare CKD patients in 2009, adjusted all-cause hospitalization rates were 1.5 times the non-CKD population, and all-cause mortality was twice as high as in non-CKD patients, even when adjusted for comorbid conditions. Then there is cost: in one article by DH Smith et al in 2004, the management of CKD alone was estimated to cost an additional $8000 annually per patient. The renal fellows at Brigham and Women’s Hospital spent the day running a screening booth in the hospital lobby, helping to advise patients on blood pressure control, urinalysis results, and diabetes testing. Whether your clinic was able to hold screenings, pass out pamphlets on kidney health, or spend an extra minute counseling patients on kidney disease prevention, it is even more critical to continue the efforts in the year to come. Hopefully we can reverse the alarming increase in CKD prevalence throughout the world and—it is to be hoped, in the best possible way—put some of us out of business.

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