Caribbean healthcare providers should test high-risk patients for kidney disease – PAHO

Noting that diabetes and high blood pressure, together with aging, are “the main risk factors for developing chronic kidney disease (CKD), which affects an estimated one in 10 adults globally,” the Washington-based health care organization on Wednesday called on Caribbean healthcare providers to test high-risk patients for signs of kidney disease.

PAHO said this should be particularly done for those with diabetes and hypertension. It also called on individuals to maintain healthy lifestyles.

Chronic kidney disease and aging is the theme of this year’s World Kidney Day, celebrated on Thursday and promoted by the International Society of Nephrology and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations.

PAHO said CKD is the progressive loss of kidney function over months or years.

In its early stages, the disease produces no symptoms and is treatable.But, in more advanced stages, it said patients can require dialysis and even kidney transplants.

In the last half-century, PAHO said life expectancy in Latin America and the Caribbean has increased more than 20 years.

“People are living longer, including those with one or more chronic diseases and risk factors,” said Enrique Vega, PAHO regional advisor on aging and health.

“This allows the effects on organs such as the kidney to accumulate in older people,” he added. “So we need to pay more attention to the problem.”

In Latin America and the Caribbean, one in three older adults suffers from one of the six most common age-related chronic diseases: hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, arthropathy (joint disease), or chronic lung disease.

To detect CKD, experts recommend blood and urine tests, and blood pressure checks, especially in high-risk groups, including people with diabetes or hypertension; those over 65; people who have suffered a heart attack; those with relatives who have had kidney disease; smokers; and sedentary people.

“Simple, low-cost treatments are available that can slow the progress of kidney disease and reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke, while improving quality of life,” PAHO said.

PAHO said it is working with its member-countries in the region to reduce premature deaths from these diseases by 25 percent by 2025.

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