March is Kidney Health Month.
The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC and Yukon Branch, is sending out the message to all British Columbians that people can lose up to 80 per cent of their kidney function and not even know it.
Knowledge is power, so being kidney smart is key when it comes to kidney health.
Kidney disease is potentially life threatening and has no cure.
It is also much more common than people think. One in 10 Canadians has kidney disease and the kidney foundation warns this number is on the rise.
In fact, in 2019, kidney disease was the tenth leading cause of death in Canada.
Kidney disease occurs when kidney damage is present or there is decreased kidney function for a period of three months or more.
When this occurs, kidneys can no longer do their critical work filtering toxins.
This is a situation that Wayde Hayley knows all too well, the foundation explains.
In 2011 his kidneys failed due to IgA nephropathy, a disease that causes damage to the tiny filters inside the kidneys but in the early stages often has no symptoms.
Hayley, who serves as board vice president for the Kidney Foundation, BC and Yukon Branch, explains, “I was shocked to learn I had kidney disease as no one in my family had kidney disease and I did not know a lot about the disease and its risk factors. I functioned for the better part of three years on peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis and I tried to live a normal life during this time, taking good care of myself both physically and mentally, but kidney disease takes its toll.”
Hayley suffered with very high blood pressure, which led to a significant health event and left him facing some of the darkest hours of his life.
Thankfully, in 2014, he received a kidney transplant from his cousin for which he is forever grateful.
“Many people living with kidney disease show no symptoms until the disease is very advanced, so it’s really important to know the risks and to talk to your doctor about being screened for kidney disease if you fall into one of the risk categories,” says nephrologist Dr. Mike Bevilacqua, appointed medical advisor with The Kidney Foundation and chair of the BC Renal Kidney Care Committee.
“The earlier someone knows they have compromised kidneys, the higher the chance of preventing or delaying the onset of kidney failure and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant.”
The leading causes of kidney disease include diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Those with a family history of kidney disease or individuals from certain ethnic backgrounds, including Asian, South Asian, African, and Indigenous, are also at a greater risk for kidney disease.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes managing blood pressure and blood sugar levels, can help protect kidney function.
The Kidney Foundation is encouraging the public talk to their doctor if they are at risk for kidney disease.