National Kidney Month

Published on 22 March 2017

One in three American adults are at risk for kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation. However, kidney disease has no symptoms and often goes undetected until it reaches very advanced stages that require intense treatments like dialysis or a transplant. With such a high level of risk, the importance of National Kidney Month is notable in the need to spread kidney health awareness.

The often overlooked kidneys are the blood’s main filtration system. The kidneys not only filter the blood to make urine, but maintain fluid balance in the body. When kidneys are no longer functioning properly, it can lead to two categories of kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is closely associated with other common disease states like hypertension and diabetes. What makes CKD chronic is the disease states that attribute to the disease (heart disease, diabetes, and so on), family history and the severity of the disease. Acute kidney injury (AKI) is medication induced and more sudden. AKI makes it difficult for kidneys to keep the right balance of fluid in the body and can affect other organs such as the brain, heart and lungs.

The role of the pharmacist is key in preventing and slowing the progress of kidney disease. In the case of CKD, the pharmacist can use medication to prevent, slow the progress of and prevent complications with CKD by monitoring the other chronic disease states. When it comes to AKI, because AKI is medication induced, pharmacists can monitor or identify which medications, typically antibiotics, could potentially cause kidney failure or damage.

“From slowing the progression of chronic kidney disease to treating acute kidney injury, pharmacists have important responsibilities,” said Andrew Crannage ’08, Pharm.D., BCPS, associate professor of pharmacy practice.” It is a pharmacist’s role to consider every patients' renal function and ensure medications optimize overall kidney health.”

The path to healthy and happy kidney function is simple and may sound familiar. Sticking to a healthy diet and exercising regularly is not only a way to keep your kidneys in good health, but it is a way to control chronic disease states that often lead to kidney disease. The interconnectedness of the human body depends greatly on the attention given to the whole self, but for the month of March, when you are out on your morning run, give your kidneys a little tip of the cap.

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