About the Day
World Kidney Day is a global awareness campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys and is celebrated on the second Thursday of March every year around the globe. World Kidney Day comes back every year. All across the globe, many hundred events take place from public screenings in Argentina to Zumba marathons in Malaysia. We do it all to create awareness. Awareness about preventive behaviors, awareness about risk factors, and awareness about how to live with kidney disease. We do this because we want kidney health for all.
World Kidney Day aims to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.
- Raise awareness about our “amazing kidneys” Highlight that diabetes and high blood pressure are key risk factors for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
- Encourage systematic screening of all patients with diabetes and hypertension for CKD
- Encourage preventive behaviours.
- Educate all medical professionals about their key role in detecting and reducing the risk of CKD, particularly in high risk populations.
- Stress the important role of local and national health authorities in controlling the CKD epidemic. On World Kidney Day all governments are encouraged to take action and invest in further kidney screening.
- Encourage Transplantation as a best-outcome option for kidney failure, and the act of organ donation as a life-saving initiative.
What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a progressive loss in kidney function over a period of months or years. Each of your kidneys has about a million tiny filters, called nephrons. If nephrons are damaged, they stop working. For a while, healthy nephrons can take on the extra work. But if the damage continues, more and more nephrons shut down. After a certain point, the nephrons that are left cannot filter your blood well enough to keep you healthy.
When kidney function falls below a certain point, it is called kidney failure. Kidney failure affects your whole body, and can make you feel very ill. Untreated kidney failure can be life-threatening.
What you should not forget:
- Early chronic kidney disease has no signs or symptoms.
- Chronic kidney disease usually does not go away.
- Kidney disease can be treated. The earlier you know you have it, the better your chances of receiving effective treatment.
- Blood and urine tests are used to check for kidney disease.
- Kidney disease can progress to kidney failure.
Kidney Diseases are Common, Harmful and often Treatable
Between 8 and 10% of the adult population have some form of kidney damage, and every year millions die prematurely of complications related to Chronic Kidney Diseases (CKD).
• The first consequence of undetected CKD is the risk of developing progressive loss of kidney function that can lead to kidney failure (also called end-stage renal disease, ESRD) which means regular dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant is needed to survive.
• The second consequence of CKD is that it increases the risk of premature death from associated cardiovascular disease (i.e. heart attacks and strokes). Individuals who appear to be healthy who are then found to have CKD have an increased risk of dying prematurely from cardiovascular disease regardless of whether they ever develop kidney failure.
If CKD is detected early and managed appropriately, the deterioration in kidney function can be slowed or even stopped, and the risk of associated cardiovascular complications can be reduced.
How is kidney function measured?
The main indicator of kidney function is your blood level of creatinine, a waste product of the body produced by muscles and excreted by the kidneys. If kidney function is reduced, creatinine accumulates in the blood leading to an elevated level when a blood test is checked.
Kidney function is best measured by an indicator called GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate) which measures the blood filtration rate by kidneys. This indicator allows doctors to determine if the kidney function is normal, and if not, to what level the reduced kidney function has deteriorated. In everyday practice, GFR can easily be estimated (eGFR), from the measurement of the blood creatinine level, and taking into account, age, ethnicity, and gender.
Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease
High blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes are the most common causes of kidney disease. The high blood pressure causes just over a quarter of all cases of kidney failure. Diabetes has been established as the cause of around one-third of all cases and is the commonest cause of ESRD in most developed countries.
Other less common conditions include inflammation (glomerulonephritis) or infections (pyelonephritis). Sometimes CKD is inherited (such as polycystic disease) or the result of a longstanding blockage to the urinary system (such as enlarged prostate or kidney stones).
Some drugs can cause CKD, especially some pain-killing drugs (analgesics) if taken over a long time. Often doctors cannot determine what caused the problem.
The majority of individuals with early stages of CKD go undiagnosed. On WKD we are calling on everyone to check if they are at risk for kidney disease and encouraging people with any risk factors to take a simple kidney function test.
Kidney disease usually progresses silently, often destroying most of the kidney function before causing any symptoms. The early detection of failing kidney function is crucial because it allows suitable treatment before kidney damage or deterioration manifests itself through other complications.
There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, although treatment can slow or halt the progression of the disease and can prevent other serious conditions developing.
The main treatments are a proper diet and medications, and for those who reach ESRD, long term dialysis treatment or kidney transplantation. In the early stages of kidney disease, a proper diet and medications may help to maintain the critical balances in the body that your kidneys would normally control. However, when you have kidney failure, wastes and fluids accumulate in your body and you need dialysis treatments to remove these wastes and excess fluid from your blood, dialysis can be done either by machine (hemodialysis) or by using fluid in your abdomen (peritoneal dialysis). In suitable patients a kidney transplant combined with medications and a healthy diet can restore normal kidney function. Dialysis and kidney transplantation are known as renal replacement therapies (RRT) because they attempt to “replace” the normal functioning of the kidneys and are discussed in more detail below.
A kidney transplant is an operation to place a healthy (donor) kidney in your body to perform the functions your own diseased kidneys can no longer perform.
Kidney transplantation is considered the best treatment for many people with severe CKD because the quality of life and survival are often better than in people who use dialysis. However, there is a shortage of organs available for donation. Many people who are candidates for kidney transplantation are put on a transplant waiting list and require dialysis until an organ is available.
A kidney can come from a living relative, a living unrelated person, or from a person who has died (deceased or cadaver donor); only one kidney is required to survive. In general, organs from living donors function better and for longer periods of time than those from donors who are deceased.
Overall, transplant success rates are very good. Transplants from deceased donors have an 85 to 90% success rate for the first year. That means that after one year, 85 to 90 out of every 100 transplanted kidneys are still functioning. Live donor transplants have a 90 to 95% success rate. Long-term success is good for people of all ages.