Primary care providers, listen up! This is something you must hear.
Results from a large retrospective analysis found that over 80 percent of patients nationwide had not had recommended kidney function tests in the primary care setting.
That is a shocking number, but somewhat defensible given that early kidney disease has few outward symptoms. Many of these patients were not diagnosed until their disease was advanced, requiring a transplant or dialysis.
Because of the silent epidemic that is chronic kidney disease (CKD), here in Whatcom County, the general public is beginning to see efforts to increase awareness about the incurable condition. Primary care providers must be more proactive in testing for CKD in at-risk populations. CKD can sometimes be prevented, and if caught early, its progression can be slowed or stopped altogether.
The kidneys are overlooked organs. Most of us seldom, if ever, give them a thought. But, kidneys start working in a 12-14 week old fetus. The kidneys are remarkable, quietly engaged doing their duty, day and night. Most of us don’t know they are involved in every breath we take. Our kidneys are responsible for completing miraculous tasks. The kidneys are just as important to life as hearts and lungs.
So, let’s give kidneys the respect they deserve. Not all kidney diseases can be avoided, but because diabetes and high blood pressure are the top causes, primary care professionals at PeaceHealth, Family Care Network, SeaMar, and other clinics must seize opportunities to improve kidney diagnosis, which will increase awareness, patient engagement and better outcomes.
PCP should mention the miracle of kidneys to their pediatric patients, too. Early discussions lead to improved quality of life. But patients must do their part – ask your PCP for kidney function tests.