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Providers Weigh In: Know Your Risks for Kidney Disease — And Your Transplant Options

Monday, June 26, 2017

Thirty million Americans live with chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to the National Kidney Foundation, and millions more are at risk for the condition, which is characterized by a gradual loss of kidney function.

Diabetes, high blood pressure, and hypertension all can contribute to CKD. If kidney disease progresses, it can eventually lead to kidney failure, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life. Early detection and treatment can often keep chronic kidney disease from getting worse.

Especially of concern to kidney disease is high blood pressure. When the heart must work harder, it can damage your body's blood vessels, including those in the kidney. When the kidney's blood vessels are damaged, they may stop removing wastes and extra fluid from your body, causing blood pressure may increase even more. This dangerous cycle can lead to kidney failure, resulting in a kidney transplant or dialysis.

It is important to maintain a relationship with your nephrologist (kidney doctor) to evaluate, monitor, and control your medical condition.

Kidney transplant is indicated for renal failure due to many causes, including: hypertension and diabetes (the most common causes for renal failure in the U.S.), diabetic nephropathy, focal segmental Glomerular sclerosis (FSGS), polycystic kidney disease, HIV nephropathy, systemic lupus, and glomerulonephritis.

To ensure the success of your treatment, the Kidney Transplant team at UI Health must have a complete medical, psychosocial, & financial evaluation to determine if transplant is the right thing for you. Our team works closely with patients through every stage of the transplant journey - from pre-transplant care to postsurgical monitoring. We are committed to providing patients and their families personalized treatment options for the best surgical outcomes.

Divya Jain
Divya Jain, MD

"Every second counts when it comes to waiting for a kidney, and [patients] can be listed on the transplant list well before they ever need dialysis," says Dr. Divya Jain, of the Division of Nephrology.

If you do need a kidney transplant, there are several things you can do in order to stay healthy while waiting:

  • Visit your nephrologist regularly, and follow their recommendations.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Control/monitor your weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid blood transfusions.
  • Protect your skin from the sun exposure.
  • Take prescribed medications, as directed.
  • Be up-to-date with all vaccinations and health screenings.

Following kidney transplantation, you may need to adjust your diet to keep your new kidney healthy and functioning well.

To learn more about the kidney transplant options at UI Health, visit Kidney.UIHealth.Care.