Are Black Men More Susceptible to Kidney Disease?

An exploration into the high number of kidney-related incidents in the African American community

(Image: ThinkStock)

To help raise awareness about kidney disease among high-risk individuals who can’t afford a doctor, The National Kidney Foundation created KEEP: The Kidney Early Evaluation Program, a pop-up kidney disease screening site where participants receive a comprehensive health risk appraisal, blood pressure measurement, as well as blood and urine testing.

“Identifying individuals who are at risk for chronic kidney disease has a tremendous benefit in raising awareness and helping those who have the disease get access to the right type of treatment much more quickly than if they had waited until a sign or symptom showed itself,” says Dr. Becker, who sites odd aches and pains, difficulty concentrating and abnormal fatigue and sleep patterns as common symptoms of kidney malfunction. “A quarter of the people who appear to be most at risk usually end up having kidney disease. If they choose to be screened, individuals must feel comfortable with the fact that they may gain health information that they don’t want to know.”

Dr. Becker also wants people to know that kidney disease is not a death sentence. In fact, it’s treatable, manageable and doesn’t have to completely alter one’s lifestyle. Superstar athletes Sean Elliot and Alonzo Mourning are great examples of people who continued to lead a very active lifestyle both on and off the court before even getting their transplants. More recently, actor/entrepreneur Nick Cannon was hospitalized for “mild kidney failure” before getting released and returning to work.

“There is no reason that patients with chronic kidney disease can’t engage in significant activities,” says Dr. Becker. “We actually recommend that people with kidney failure or who are on dialysis be as active as they possibly can. They need to keep their muscles working and their metabolism as improved as possible, because if the person ends up needing a transplant, we want them healthy and fit.”

Fortunately, for Osborne, that fateful trip to the emergency room came just in the nick of time; he’s been able to manage his kidney disease without needing a transplant or dialysis. He’s also seen a vast improvement in his weight, cholesterol and kidney function with the help of a well-balanced diet, regular exercise and a few medications, including the steroid prednisone.

“I’m much healthier and able to keep up with my one-year-old son,” he says. “I hope more people will start to take responsibility for their health. If you know you aren’t feeling well; you’ve got family members on dialysis; or diabetes and hypertension runs in your family, get up off your butt and go get tested. You might just save your life.”

For additional information, check out the National Kidney Foundation’s 10 facts about African-Americans and kidney disease.

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  • norman

    ITS ABOUT TIME>>>>>>>>>>RESEARCH

    • jeannie minnelli, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

      Better ways to predict kidney disease risk for African Americans

      Martin Pollak, MD (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) and his group looked to see if APOL1 gene variants confer risks for other types of kidney disease among 2,867 African Americans. Nondiabetic individuals with two APOL1 gene variants had a four-fold increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease over nondiabetics without the gene variants. (No increased risk occurred among diabetics.) “Our research shows that APOL1 variants explain the difference between the high rate of kidney disease in African Americans compared with European Americans,” said Dr. Pollak.

      http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-10/ason-bwt101311.php

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  • Oshada

    I’m 31 and just found out I have PKD, bit woynrirg what the future will bring, but like you said there may well be a cure in the next 20 years or so, fingers crossed!

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    • Anna

      I’m praying for Jade and her petnars. Sometimes people progress beyond the initial diagnosis. Maybe she will walk again.Glad Christian is back home. What chapter are we on now, in the Kidney From Hell story? But hey, maybe it’s the Kidney from Heaven. Christian will probably have a much better understanding of some things than most people do, because of what he’s been through. You too. Not to sound preachy but, you know the Joseph story What was meant for evil, God meant for good. Hang in there. We’re all standing with ya.

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