New York, NY (May 8, 2014) – African Americans are three times more likely to experience kidney failure than Caucasians due to high rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. In an effort to educate African Americans about their increased risk of kidney disease and provide ways to lead a healthier lifestyle, the National Kidney Foundation has launched a new portal on its website, www.kidney.org/africanamericanhealth, geared specifically for African Americans.
"Because kidney disease often has no symptoms, it can go unnoticed until it is very advanced. But there's good news. Taking steps to live a healthy lifestyle can go a long way towards reducing risk, and early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease," said Bruce Skyer, Chief Executive Officer of the National Kidney Foundation.
The new portal offers healthy lifestyle tips, a Kidney 101 section, an online risk quiz and information about dialysis and transplantation.
Nearly half of African Americans have at least one risk factor for kidney disease, but recent research shows that less than 3% say they believe kidney disease is a "top health concern."
"I never gave my kidneys a second thought until I ended up in the hospital. The kidneys filter out toxins in the blood, acting as the body's purifier, but unless they stop working, so many of us pay no attention," said actor and comedian Nick Cannon, who is a spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation. "The fact is there are 26 million Americans with kidney disease and most don't know it. So none of us can afford to ignore this anymore."
Major risk factors for kidney disease include high blood pressure, diabetes, being over age 60 and a family history of kidney failure, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Additional risk factors include kidney stones, smoking, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
"African Americans need to be aware of kidney disease risk factors and visit their doctor or clinic regularly to check their blood sugar, blood pressure, urine protein and kidney function," said Beth Piraino, MD, National Kidney Foundation President.
"Kidney disease risk and its associated complications can be reduced by controlling blood pressure and blood sugar, maintaining proper weight, not smoking, exercising regularly and avoiding excessive use of medications that can harm kidneys such as ibuprofen and naproxen," continued Piraino.
Facts about African Americans and Kidney Disease, from the National Kidney Foundation:
- African Americans constitute more than 32% of all patients in the U.S. receiving dialysis for kidney failure, but only represent 13% of the overall U.S. population.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in African Americans.
- The most common type of diabetes in African Americans is type 2 diabetes. African Americans are more likely to develop serious complications such as heart disease and strokes.
- High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure among African Americans, and remains the leading cause of death due to its link with heart attacks and strokes.
The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families, and tens of millions of Americans at risk. For more information, visit www.kidney.org.