Time to talk about a silent killer

NINETY people are receiving renal dialysis in Dubbo and the Orana region with a staggering 40 per cent of them of Aboriginal descent.

A plea has gone out to indigenous residents of the region this Kidney Health Week (to June 2) to consult a doctor and determine if they are suffering from the "silent killer".

Adults in the the general population are also targeted by the annual awareness campaign of Kidney Health Australia, supported by the Western NSW Local Health District.                       

More than 50 Australians die each day from kidney-related disease, the fastest growing chronic disease in the world.

One in three Australians is at increased risk of kidney disease because they have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, a family history of kidney disease, smoke, are obese, over the age of 60, or of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin.

Dubbo Base Hospital's renal nurse manager Gail O'Brien yesterday spelt out the possible consequences of not checking for the incurable disease.

"Your body adjusts over time so you don't realise that you've actually got sick kidneys until you've lost all but about 10, 12 per cent of kidney function," she said.

"Then you feel unwell and go to the doctor and find out you probably need dialysis.

"So people should think about kidney health and go and have some simple tests done." 

Ms O'Brien said doctors were "very clever" at modify the factors that progressed the disease, including diabetes "the number one reason for renal failure in Australia".

She said kidney disease was progressive, with treatment available at each stage.

"If you pick it up early in stage one and two, there are certainly things that can be done to stop any more progression," she said.

"If you get to stage three and four there are things that can be done to slow down the progression so you don't have to start dialysis.

"You might go another two,three, four, five or 10 years before you need dialysis.

"Once you're on dialysis it's for life, unless you get a transplant and there are limitations to who gets them.

"While we look after people well on dialysis, your normal lifestyle without dialysis is much better than when on dialysis." 

Ms O'Brien released the dialysis statistics for the region that showed the "very much" over-representation of Aboriginal people on dialysis.

She urged Aboriginal people in the region to seek medical support in determining the health of their kidneys.

This week Kidney Health Australia has been promoting the use of www.checkmykidneys.com.au in a bid to boost early detection of kidney disease.

Four displays in Dubbo Base Hospital aim to do the same.

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