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March is Kidney Month. Are you at Risk?

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Find out if you are at risk by taking a simple quiz for Kidney Month.

One in 10 Canadians has kidney disease. Millions more are at risk, but many don’t know the causes, signs and symptoms behind the disease.

“People think chronic kidney disease is uncommon,” says Manitoba nephrologist and researcher Dr. Navdeep Tangri. “People don’t talk about it.”

During kidney month, The Kidney Foundation encourages Canadians to know their risk factors and to talk about kidney health. “An easy way for people to learn more about kidney disease is to complete our self-assessment tool at kidney.ca/risk,” according to Paul Kidston, National President of The Kidney Foundation of Canada. “It can encourage people to think about their own health management choices and to consider how their medical and family history may also impact kidney health.”

Events and activities across the country, including the support of thousands of door-to-door canvassers participating in the annual March Drive, help raise the profile of kidney health during this awareness month.

Facing the Facts

The prevalence of kidney disease has increased 42% from 2003 to 2013.

Statistics and facts about kidney disease in Canada:

  • 41,931 Canadians are living with end-stage kidney disease; since 2004, this number has grown 35%
  • Of those Canadians with end-stage kidney disease, 57.5% are receiving dialysis treatment and 42.5% have a functioning kidney transplant
  • Diabetes was the main cause of kidney failure in nearly 36% of new patients
  • More than half of newly-diagnosed patients were age 65 or older
  • Of those patients on hemodialysis treatments, only 42.7% survived at least five years
  • At the end of 2013, there were 3,382 Canadians on the waiting list for a kidney transplant
  • 1,419 people received a kidney transplant, including simultaneous kidney-pancreas transplants

In January 2016, Dr. Tangri published a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association about predicting when people living with CKD would reach kidney failure. “A common misconception about the disease is that it equals kidney failure,” he said. “Some patients may never get to that stage.”

Some advice Dr. Tangri would give to people in the early stages of the disease would be to maintain really good blood pressure and blood sugar control and to make healthy lifestyle changes.

“Dialysis negatively affects a patient’s life,” said Dr. Tangri. “Our job is absolutely to prevent dialysis.”

Dr. Tangri is an attending physician at the Seven Oaks Hospital in Winnipeg as well as an Associate Professor at the University of Manitoba. His research is currently supported by grants from The Kidney Foundation of Canada Kidney Research Scientist Core Education and National Training (KRESCENT) Program, the Canadian Institute of Health Research, and Research Manitoba. Among his work, Dr. Tangri has developed a phone application – commonly known as an app – which provides primary care providers with a tool to help them gauge the risk of kidney failure. He is also conducting a prospective study on frailty, physical, and cognitive function in people with advanced CKD.

To learn more about kidney month and risk factors related to kidney disease, visit www.kidney.ca.