National High Potassium Awareness Day: Patient Story, Dale Rogers

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Patient Story: Dale Rogers, AAKP Board of Director/Ambassador

Dale Rogers is a two-time kidney transplant recipient.  Like many other kidney patients Dale has struggled with high potassium (also known as hyperkalemia).  Dale shares that high potassium became a huge problem for him when he was fasting and dieting, while on dialysis, in order to get to a health weight for receiving a kidney transplant.  Although Dale was very knowledgeable and strict about eating a kidney friendly diet, fasting would cause his potassium storage to dump into his system.  He had trouble walking and getting around when his potassium levels became too high.  He remembers one scary episode where his potassium level reached 6.9%! The normal, safe range for potassium level is 3.5-5.0.

Luckily, Dale was able to get his potassium in check by watching his diet very closely and keeping his labs at the proper level without medication.  Dale wants his fellow kidney patients to know that they need to be careful, “some foods and drinks that dialysis patients consume can kill them.”  Dale recalls eating a big bowl of granola and felling sick for days after – until his next dialysis appointment – with no kidney function, his body could not handle the amount of potassium he had consumed.  Dale says kidney patients should also think about the drinks that they consume.  He says after a dialysis treatment, patients often get cramps.  Someone not knowledgeable about a kidney friendly diet might recommend a sports drink for the cramps, but sports drinks are commonly high in potassium.  Dale wants patients to know that “education and knowledge about potassium can save your life.”

Learn more about National High Potassium Awareness Day at www.areyouok.org

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CELEBRATING NATIONAL KIDNEY MONTH

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By Jim Myers, AAKP Board of Director, AAKP Ambassador (Indiana)

National Kidney Month 2020

March is National Kidney Month. It is a time where we raise awareness across the country about kidney diseases and the importance of kidney health. This March is drastically different as we are not only raising awareness of kidneys, but across the globe, united we are working to manage the implications of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Individuals with kidney diseases are at an increased risk for contracting virus such as the flu and COVID-19 due to our suppressed immune systems. So, this year, it’s not only important to raise awareness of kidney disease in general, but to also understand the unique needs of this population. Read on to learn more about your kidney health and for the latest information on COVID-19 from reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) visit https://aakp.org/center-for-patient-research-and-education/coronavirus-resources/.  

Each year for National Kidney Month there is a new theme to help raise awareness. This year, in conjunction with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the theme is the link between high blood pressure (HBP) and kidney disease.

What Is High Blood Pressure (HBP)?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against your bloody vessel walls as your heart pumps blood throughout your body. High Blood Pressure (hypertension) is an increase in the force that blood places on the vessels as blood moves through your body.

What Do Your Kidneys Do?
Kidneys that are functioning normally filter a half cup of blood a minute to remove waste & extra water to make urine. The urine goes from your kidneys to your bladder, and eventually out of your body.

How Does High Blood Pressure Affect Your Kidneys?
As a result of the increased pressure on the walls of your blood vessels, HBP can cause the blood vessels to narrow. This in turn causes damages the blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the kidney. The constriction reduces your blood flow to the kidney.

This in turn causes damage to your kidneys. Damaged kidneys that aren’t working well, cannot remove all the waste products from your body. This causes toxins to build up in your body and can eventually lead to total kidney failure.

High Blood Pressure Leading to Kidney Disease is Very Common

HBP is the second leading cause of kidney disease. According to National Institutes of Health (NIH), almost 1 of 2 Adults in America (108 Million People) have high blood pressure. More than 1 in 7 American Adults (37 Million People) have chronic kidney disease and most don't know it. This is why during the month of March, we urge you to get tested for Kidney Disease.

Who Is More Likely to Have High Blood Pressure and/or Kidney Disease?

You are more likely to have high blood pressure if:

1. You're Older- Blood Pressure usually increases as we get older. Our blood vessels thicken and stiffen over time;
2. Family History- HBP runs in the family;
3. You Have an Unhealthy Lifestyle- Bad habits like eating too much salt, drinking too much alcohol, not being physically active can increase your risk of HBP;
4. You Are African American, Hispanic or Asian - These populations are more likely to have high blood pressure than Caucasians;
5. You Are Male- Sorry, guys but men are more likely to have high blood pressure than females before the age of 55. Women are more likely to develop HBP after 55.

Kidney Disease Factors

Factors that increase your risk of Kidney Disease are:

1. Diabetes;
2. HBP- can be both a cause and as a result of Kidney Disease;
3. Family History- a family history of Kidney Disease or heredity can cause it, for example polycystic kidney disease;
4. Race/Ethnicity- African Americans, Hispanics & American Indians are at greater risk of Kidney Disease.

The Good News

The good news is that you can take steps to protect your kidneys from HBP. These steps include:

1. Take Your HBP Medication: If your doctor prescribes meds for HBP, make sure you take it as directed. This will lower your blood pressure which in turn will slow the development of Kidney Disease;
2. Maintain A Healthy Weight- You can improve your BP by maintaining a healthy weight as recommended by your doctor;
3. Eat Healthy Foods and Beverages- Fruits and vegetables, lean meat, whole grains & heart-healthy foods should be on your shopping list;
4. Quit Smoking!!;
5. Get Plenty of Sleep- Try for 7-8 hours of sleep every night;
6. Exercise- Try to get at least 30 minutes or more of physical activity every day.

Conclusion

High Blood Pressure is one of the leading causes of chronic kidney disease. In National Kidney Month, please consider taking steps to avoid HBP. Also, please consider testing for Kidney Disease. Talk to your doctor about urinalysis and a blood test for Kidney Disease. Early detection and early treatment could save your life!

REFERENCES

March is National Kidney Month,
https://www.davita.com/education/kidney-disease/risk-factors/march-is-national-kidney-month

National Kidney Month 2020,
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/community-health-outreach/national-kidney-month?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social+media&utm_campaign=nkm+2020&fbclid=IwAR2PIH4_hg8B7BT4-tUQw26o5poFTf63tYKmcvJMUHKKf9lDI5rQIho2KxU

How High Blood Pressure Can Lead to Kidney Disease,
https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/health-threats-from-high-blood-pressure/how-high-blood-pressure-can-lead-to-kidney-damage-or-failure

High Blood Pressure & Kidney Disease,
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/high-blood-pressure

High Blood Pressure,
https://www.kidneyfund.org/prevention/are-you-at-risk/high-blood-pressure.html

AAKP Resources

AAKP Pocket Guide to Managing Kidney Disease

AAKP Educational Brochures and Resources

AAKP Coronavirus Resources

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World Kidney Day: March 12, 2020

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By Suzanne Ruff, Living Donor, AAKP BOD and author of The Reluctant Donor

Wikipedia describes World Kidney Day as follows: “World Kidney Day (WKD) is a global health awareness campaign focusing on the importance of the kidneys and reducing the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.

World Kidney Day is observed annually on the 2nd Thursday in March. At the start of this holiday, 66 countries observed this date in 2006. Within two years, this number rose to 88. WKD is a joint initiative of the International Society of Nephrology and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF).  This holiday was intended to raise awareness about conditions of the kidney; although many are treatable, they are a secondary medical concern of the greater population.

This year World Kidney Day continues to raise awareness of the increasing burden of kidney diseases worldwide and to strive for kidney health for everyone, everywhere. Specifically, the 2020 campaign highlights the importance of preventive interventions to avert the onset and progression of kidney disease.”

Those are the facts about World Kidney Day. My personal note about World Kidney Day is to say: I love kidneys!  Don’t you? Kidneys are so wonderful that I would like to make a suggestion to readers of this blog. On World Kidney Day, please take a moment to stop and whisper a thank you to your kidneys. 

I am not only referring to people who are battling kidney disease –I mean everyone! Focus and be grateful for what the mighty kidney does even if and especially if you are in any of the stages of kidney disease. Kidneys are small but powerful organs. Your kidney does so much work within your body – critically important work for the health of your body. Just as your heart beats to keep you alive, your kidneys filter our blood to cleanse toxins and filter waste from your body.  About 52 gallons of blood are filtered through your kidneys each day. Kidneys help regulate our blood pressure and release the hormones that help make red blood cells and keep our bones healthy. 

The top two reasons for kidney failure are high blood pressure and diabetes. The best way to take care of your kidneys is to ask your doctor at your annual physical (and you ARE getting an annual physical, right?) is “Doc, how are my kidneys doing?” Take responsibility for your health. Know your creatinine level, your blood pressure and glucose level Keep your eyes open about how your kidney function is doing.  Kidney disease is a silent disease.  We can prevent it by monitoring our blood pressure and your glucose level for any signs of diabetes. 

This is great advice for anyone with or without kidney disease.

You might wonder why I am so passionate about kidneys?

My family suffers from a genetic kidney disease called polycystic kidney disease (PKD). If your parent carries the gene for PKD, you have a 50% chance of inheriting the disease.  We can trace the disease back over seventy years, a timeline that shows much of the progress made in the treatment of kidney disease. Back in the 1940’s my grandmother was told there was nothing that the doctors could do for her failing kidneys. No dialysis, no transplantation, nothing!  I shudder to think of how sad it must’ve been. My mother was a teenager when her mother died of kidney failure. 

Years later, my mother battled the same disease, as do both of my sisters. I am a living kidney donor to one of my sisters. My other sister received a kidney from a deceased donor.  Mom, too, was given fifteen more years of life, after ten years on dialysis, by a deceased donor.  That is why I am passionate about kidneys. 

I like to remind people to ask their doctors how their kidneys are doing. Because if you take care of your kidneys, they will take care of you.  

 

Visit AAKP’s World Kidney Day webpage

 Download and Share AAKP's Pocket Guide Managing Kidney Disease

 

 

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Rare Disease Day

As per the NORD (National Organization of Rare Disease) website: The main objective of Rare Disease Day is to raise awareness among the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives.

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As per the NORD (National Organization of Rare Disease) website: The main objective of Rare Disease Day is to raise awareness among the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients' lives.
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Admin
Travel, whether for vacation or business, always seems to involve a degree of stress but there are extra considerations for kidney patients living with dialysis. Here’s a checklist to help with travel planning to help things run more smoothly before you leave home, After all, vacations are supposed to be enjoyable and promote a feeling of calm serenity!
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February 14th is National Donor Day. It’s also St. Valentine’s Day. Most everyone associates the heart with Valentine’s Day – because the heart is the organ that symbolizes love. In reality, though, every organ, every tissue, every single part of our miraculous bodies symbolizes the greatest of all gifts: LIFE!


Admin
February 14th is National Donor Day. It’s also St. Valentine’s Day. Most everyone associates the heart with Valentine’s Day – because the heart is the organ that symbolizes love. In reality, though, every organ, every tissue, every single part of our miraculous bodies symbolizes the greatest of all gifts: LIFE!

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Potassium is a very important mineral. It plays a key role in controlling the function of nerves and muscles, particularly the heart. Potassium is found in many foods, especially many fruits and vegetables. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and may also have benefits such as reducing the risk of strokes.


Admin
Potassium is a very important mineral. It plays a key role in controlling the function of nerves and muscles, particularly the heart. Potassium is found in many foods, especially many fruits and vegetables. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and may also have benefits such as reducing the risk of strokes.

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Planning for the Future: Advice for Seniors and Caregivers

For many seniors, thinking about the future can be extremely stressful. There are many financial considerations to think about, from how you’ll pay for potential medical bills to covering the costs of long-term care. Not only that, you might need to start thinking about end-of-life preparations, especially if you have a large estate…

Admin
For many seniors, thinking about the future can be extremely stressful. There are many financial considerations to think about, from how you’ll pay for potential medical bills to covering the costs of long-term care. Not only that, you might need to start thinking about end-of-life preparations, especially if you have a large estate...
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WHAT IT MEANS TO ME TO BE A MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF KIDNEY PATIENTS

It was 2014, I had just completed my first year of dialysis. I was in my chair at the Fresenius Medical Care Clinic in Crown Point, Indiana, when my doctor, Dr. Vavilala (Dr. V) approached me. He mentioned to me that the ESRD Network 10 was holding a contest, and he felt that if I applied and wrote an essay, I’d win.

Admin
It was 2014, I had just completed my first year of dialysis. I was in my chair at the Fresenius Medical Care Clinic in Crown Point, Indiana, when my doctor, Dr. Vavilala (Dr. V) approached me. He mentioned to me that the ESRD Network 10 was holding a contest, and he felt that if I applied and wrote an essay, I'd win.
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Admin
Tampa, FL - The American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP), America’s oldest and largest independent, patient-led kidney advocacy organization, has announced recipients of its 2020 Medal of Excellence. The award is one of the Association’s highest honors for kidney healthcare professionals and designed to elevate local, national and international figures who have been at the forefront of advancements in kidney care and patient empowerment.
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