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Kidney Health Australia launch new early detection campaign

The campaign urges people to understand the risk factors for kidney disease so they can take active steps to manage their kidney health.

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On Wednesday, 2 September we launched our awareness campaign promoting early detection of kidney disease. We're urging the 1 in 3 Australians at risk of kidney disease to take action to detect the disease in the early stages, before kidney failure strikes.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) sees a gradual but progressive decrease in kidney function to a point where the kidneys are unable to sustain life. The early diagnosis of CKD is often missed as 90 percent of kidney function can be lost before visible symptoms appear.

The leading risk factors for CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure, which together cause over 50% of kidney disease in Australia. Other risk factors, including smoking, obesity and acute kidney injury, can also lead to kidney disease.

Early detection of kidney disease has been shown to slow, and in some cases halt, the progression of the disease. So, Australians are encouraged to complete Kidney Health Australia’s simple online risk test, to find out if they are at risk and take action by seeking a simple Kidney Health Check from their GP.

Chief Executive Officer, Chris Forbes said the campaign was particularly targeting the 1.5 million Australians unaware they are already living with the early markers of kidney disease.

“The real danger with kidney disease is it’s an insidious disease where people can be on the brink of kidney failure before they suspect anything is wrong”, said Mr Forbes.

“Early treatment of kidney disease has been shown to slow the progression of the disease, with lifestyle modification a key strategy in managing the disease.”

For father of five, Shane, a routine check at his GP picked up very high blood pressure which eventually lead to a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease in 2013. Because Shane wasn’t experiencing any symptoms in the earlier stages of his kidney disease, it was a huge shock when he was told his kidney function was only 6% in early 2019.

Now on life-saving dialysis four days a week, 48-year-old Shane says that he wasn’t aware until too late that he could have done more to manage his diagnosis. “Because things were okay for so long after I was diagnosed, I didn’t think I needed to do anything else, but it can hit you so quickly – within 12 months, I went from feeling pretty fit and active to being extremely ill and not being able to get out of bed.”

Early detection of CKD could also aid in decreasing the exorbitant treatment costs associated with kidney failure, which is currently costing the Australian taxpayer over $1 billion each year. For each Australian that avoids dialysis, $70,000 - $100,000 is saved from the health budget per annum.

“The most effective step we can take in protecting people at risk of kidney disease is to shift the focus to preserving their kidney health through early detection measures, instead of replacement therapies that limit their quality of life and still leave them vulnerable to contracting other illnesses,” Mr Forbes said.

“I’d like to thank Shane and his family for their courage in featuring in our awareness campaign and sharing their life with kidney disease, so others can benefit from their experience and take action to prevent a life with kidney failure.”

Early detection starts now at kidney.org.au/kidneyrisktest

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