KEEP Healthy

Featured KEEP Participant

Venisa WilkesFor Retired Teacher, KEEP is a Wake-up Call

Sometimes we find that the steps that are the most difficult to take are the most rewarding, especially when it comes to making healthier lifestyle choices. Concerned about her hypertension and family history of kidney failure, Venisa Wilkes wanted to find out more about chronic kidney disease. When the Pittsburgh resident realized that the National Kidney Foundation was holding one of their free Kidney Early Evaluation Programs at her local community center she knew it was time to take action. She was quick to sign up, and extremely glad that she did; “I got more information here than I ever got from my doctor,” said Venisa.

On site, the 60 year-old, retired elementary school teacher showed a blood pressure reading of 169/90, and protein in her urine; both silent symptoms of chronic kidney disease (CKD). She also discovered that her kidney function had decreased to a point that indicated she was in the onset of Kidney Disease. Although shaken at first, she acted quickly to follow the advice she received during her consultation with one of the KEEP volunteer nephrologists at the screening. With a greater understanding of how risk factors like hypertension and diabetes can alter Kidney function, she began to make various lifestyle changes to prevent further kidney damage.

First, she purchased a blood pressure monitor and began checking her readings twice per day in order to make sure that her hypertension was being kept under control. Shortly after, she visited a nutritionist who helped her plan changes in her diet that would help her bring down her blood pressure to a more healthy level. Even though her new dietary changes may have been enough, Mrs. Wilkes did not stop there; she took it one step further and joined a local gym.

Since implementing these changes, she revisited nephrologist and the results are looking much brighter than they did on the day of her screening. "The nephrologist said my readings are improving; they're not where they need to be quite yet, but I am on the right path and KEEP put me there" said Venisa. "Since those tests my blood pressure has gone down 30 points, I have changed my diet, and feel better about myself."

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