YOUR LIFE YOUR HEALTH

Are you at risk for kidney disease? 

Jan 25, 2024, 5:59 PM | Updated: Jan 31, 2024, 10:52 am

LOGAN – Steve Adams is not afraid of making friends, even at the dialysis center.

Or jokes.

“There’s a guy that sits kitty-corner from me. I said, ‘I can’t believe you can’t remember me. We were in jail together!'” he laughed. “It took three weeks before he realized that we had not been in jail together.”

But when it comes to his health, there’s some fear present. “It’s scary,” Adams said.

Due to his high blood pressure – one of the leading causes of kidney disease – Adams has been on dialysis for four years.

“I go three days a week,” he said. “I spend four hours a day.”

Dialysis is a treatment used to clean and filter blood when one’s kidneys are unable to do so.

“Dialysis is very challenging,” said Dr. Mark Kraus, a nephrologist with Intermountain Logan Dialysis Center. “It’s like a part-time job. You have to show up for it or you don’t benefit from it.”

Kraus said dialysis can be done in person at a center or home. Some people experience side effects like fatigue, muscle cramps or nausea.

Aside from those with high blood pressure, Kraus said those most at risk for kidney problems are diabetics.

“There’s a growing understanding of how kidney disease is spreading,” he said. “And it’s really happening not only because there is an increased incidence of diabetes nationally, but also there’s an increased incidence of hypertension.”

Other groups at risk include people over the age of 65, those with a family history of kidney issues, and minorities. According to the National Kidney Foundation, African Americans are more than three times more likely, and Hispanics more than 1.3 times more likely, than white Americans to have kidney failure.

Kraus said when caught early, kidney disease is treatable. But if left untreated, chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure, which is when dialysis or a transplant is needed. Whether or not to get a transplant is an individual decision.

“Kidney transplants are a wonderful gift that someone receives,” Kraus said. “It’s a wonderful gift that someone can give. And by having a kidney transplant, that individual can stop requiring dialysis.”

Adams has been on the transplant waitlist for four years, all while keeping a smile on his face.

“Attitude is 80% of making anybody heal,” he said. “And so if that’s the case, I’ll keep plugging.”

Adams attributes his positivity in part to the nurses and doctors who care for him, and the friends he’s made in other patients.

“Don’t downplay the social element,” Kraus said. “There is a community at the dialysis center between the staff and the patients, patients and other patients.”

Adams especially gets by through the support of his wife of 56 years.

“Caregivers are the biggest part to keep your attitude right,” he said. “And I’ve got the best. She’s my rock. I’m just grateful.”

If you fall into one of the high-risk groups, talk to your primary care provider about getting tested for kidney disease.

There are simple ways to keep your kidneys functioning properly.

Kraus said good heart health is also good kidney health. By doing heart-healthy things like staying active, having a low-salt, low-cholesterol diet, and managing your blood pressure, you’re taking care of your kidneys, too.

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Are you at risk for kidney disease?