About 37 million adults in the U.S. have kidney disease. Nearly 90% of them don’t even know they have it because it’s underdiagnosed by doctors. People living with diabetes have a higher risk of kidney disease. Testing is the only way to diagnose kidney disease because there are no symptoms in its early stages.
When the kidneys are damaged, they no longer filter blood the way they should and chronic kidney disease, or CKD, sets in. CKD can lead to other health problems such as heart disease and stroke. Those with CKD may also deal with anemia, infections, abnormal calcium, potassium and phosphorus levels, loss of appetite and depression.
CKD usually gets worse over time. Treatment can slow its progression. Left untreated, it can morph into kidney failure. At that point, dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed to survive.
A new data tool — the kidney health evaluation — tracks adults (age 18-85) with diabetes who get an annual kidney health screening. The screening includes two tests:
Results from the tests give doctors the information they need to detect kidney disease. By finding kidney disease early, patients have a better chance of avoiding dialysis or a transplant.
Until recently, a race-modifier was widely used in the estimation of kidney function for African Americans, leading to an over estimation of kidney function and delays in the diagnosis of CKD among African Americans. Most labs, hospitals and physicians now use a race-neutral formula, but patients should be aware a race-modifier to estimate GFR is no longer appropriate and advocate for themselves.
Talk to your doctor about getting a kidney health evaluation. To learn more about diabetes, visit our online Connect Community.
The above material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician. Physicians and other health care providers are encouraged to use their own best medical judgment based upon all available information and the condition of the patient in determining the best course of treatment.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association