LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., March 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), which affects 20 million people, is now the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S. and it is growing at a steady and alarming rate -- doubling every ten years. Each year the cost of managing CKD exceeds $32 billion in public and private spending. African Americans and Hispanic Americans are at increased risk for developing CKD and kidney failure.
IPRO, New York's Medicare-funded Quality Improvement Organization (QIO), is working to improve care for Medicare beneficiaries with CKD and urging at-risk New Yorkers to be tested. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease and kidney failure, both of which are very serious conditions that can lead to complications and death. People who have high blood pressure are also at risk for CKD. It is estimated that more than one million New Yorkers suffer from CKD.
"March is National Kidney month: a perfect time to call attention to the fact that most people who have kidney disease don't know it," according to IPRO Chief Medical Officer Clare Bradley, MD, MPH. She explained that most people do not have outward symptoms in the early phase of the disease. In fact, many do not have any obvious symptoms like hypertension or diabetes. This is called the "silent phase" of the disease. "The only way to know if you have CKD is to get some simple medical tests," says Dr. Bradley. She urges people with diabetes and/or high blood pressure to ask their doctor about these tests:
- Blood pressure check,
- Urine Test (micro-albumin),
- Blood test (with eGFR - estimated glomerular filtration rate).
"If you do not have a doctor you see regularly, you should look for free kidney screenings in your community," according to Dr. Bradley. The local chapter of the National Kidney Foundation provides screening in many communities.
Managing diabetes helps protect kidneys. Diabetes management includes monitoring blood glucose according to the recommended schedule and monitoring blood pressure. "It is very important to get your kidneys checked at least once a year," Dr. Bradley explains. "This message of early detection and management of CKD is important in improving clinical outcomes and avoiding additional costly expenditures."
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is funding and coordinating a pilot CKD quality improvement effort in New York and nine other states as well as in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Over 150 physicians are working in New York to implement system changes to greatly improve the quality of CKD management. These physicians are enhancing quality of life for their patients, reducing death rates, and saving health care dollars by preserving kidney health.