Timely preventive health checkups a must to avoid kidney diseases

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People with existing risk factors or health complications should be careful

New Delhi, 14 September 2018: As per a recent study, people with acute critical illness and no prior kidney disease have an increased risk of kidney complications and related mortality. Those who had experienced acute kidney illness were at an increased risk of renal complications, developing chronic kidney disease and then end-stage kidney disease, with septicemia and septic shock being the strongest risk factors. It is imperative to get kidney functions checked in a timely manner, especially in those with some pre-existing health conditions.

Chronic kidney disease or CKD is characterized by a gradual loss of kidney function over time and may eventually lead to kidney failure, causing patients to undergo dialysis or a kidney transplant. The signs and symptoms are not noticeable until the disease is fairly well advanced and the condition has become severe. By this time, most of the damage is irreversible.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Kidneys help in filtering out the excess waste and fluid material from the blood. They can eliminate most of the waste materials that our body produces. However, when the blood flow to the kidneys is affected, they cannot work properly. This can happen due to some damage or disease. Problems can occur even when the urine outflow is obstructed. At an advanced stage of CKD, dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes, and wastes can build up in the body. Those with underlying conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, abnormal kidney structure, and a family history of the disease are at more risk. Additionally, those who smoke and are obese can also be potential candidates for CKD over the longer term.”

Some symptoms of kidney disease include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue and weakness, sleep problems, decreased mental sharpness, muscle twitches and cramps, edema, persistent itching, chest pain, shortness of breath, and hypertension that is difficult to control. However, these can be confused with other ailments.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “If you have certain risk factors such as high BP or diabetes, it is important to be screened for kidney disease. That usually involves simple laboratory tests: a urine test to look for kidney damage, and a blood test to measure how well the kidneys are working. The urine test checks for a protein called albumin, which is not routinely detected when your kidneys are healthy. The blood test checks your GFR or the glomerular filtration rate, which is an estimate of filtering ability of your kidney. A GFR below 60 is a sign of chronic kidney disease. A GFR below 15 is described as kidney failure.”

Some Golden Rules to avoid or delay reaching the point of reaching kidney failure

  • Keep fit and active, as it helps reduce your blood pressure.
  • Monitor your blood pressure: It is also the most common cause of kidney damage. The normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80. A BP reading above 130/80 is high BP. Discuss the risks with your doctor and monitor your blood pressure level regularly. High blood pressure is especially likely to cause kidney damage when associated with other factors like diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Keep your blood sugar levels controls as about half of people who have diabetes develop kidney damage.
  • Eat healthy and keep your weight in check as this can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with chronic kidney disease.
  • Reduce your salt intake. The recommended sodium intake is 5-6 g of salt per day (around a teaspoon).
  • Maintain a healthy fluid intake: Traditional wisdom has long suggested drinking 1.5 to 2 liters (3 to 4 pints) of water per day. Consuming plenty of fluid helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body which, in turn, results in a “significantly lower risk” of developing chronic kidney disease.  But do not advocate “aggressive fluid loading”, which can cause side effects.
  • Do not smoke as it slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50%.
  • Do not take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis: Drugs like ibuprofen are known to cause kidney damage, if taken regularly.

Non-communicable diseases are a reality in India’s tribal pockets too

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Access to affordable and quality healthcare is the need of the hour

New Delhi, 11 September 2018: Often dubbed as lifestyle diseases, the noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancers are mainly attributed to those living in the urban areas. However, according to recent estimates, these diseases now constitute a major health burden across tribal communities as well. What makes the situation worse is that these tribal communities are now also reporting mental illness cases.

Though tribal communities are just 8% of the Indian population, they account for about 30% percent of all malaria cases. The goal of malaria elimination by 2030 cannot be met unless tribal health is prioritized as majority of malaria cases and fatalities are from these areas. Although other indicators including maternal and child health, malnutrition, and stunting have improved, they are still a cause of concern.

The tribal people or scheduled tribes – constituting about 8.6% of India’s total population – now face a triple burden of diseases (communicable, non-communicable and mental health problems).

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI), said, “While non-communicable diseases have traditionally been thought of as affecting only the urban population, research indicates that there has been an increase in their prevalence in the tribal areas as well. This is largely due to an early epidemiologic transition. Mental health issues are also commonplace due to factors such as displacement and migration, mining, land acquisition and loss of livelihood. There is a lack of access to affordable and quality public health systems in these areas, which further exacerbates the situation. The need of the hour, therefore, is to strengthen the public health system in these areas and integrate the tribal medical system with modern systems of medicine for providing best possible care.”

According to the National Health Systems Resource Centre, there is an overall deficit of 20% sub-centres, 30% PHCs and 22% CHCs in ten major states with tribal populations.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “The need of the hour is an urgently integrated action on health care to make it universally accessible and affordable at the same time. This will not only help address the health needs but also have a positive effect on poverty and growth levels. A strategy that makes citizens more competitive and act as an asset to the country’s growth is what is required at this juncture.”

While the demand for access to better and quality healthcare services continues, each one of us has a responsibility to take care of ourselves. This is more for people in the urban pockets of the country.

  • Develop healthy habits including eating, sleeping, and exercising right.
  • Do not overdo anything. From drinking to using the cell phone, everything must be in moderation.
  • Follow ancient wisdom. Do Yoga and Meditation for your mental and spiritual wellbeing and maintain equilibrium. Allow your body to heal itself.
  • Get periodic check-ups done. Early detection of most health problems can help in correcting lifestyles to slow the degeneration process and lead a longer and healthier life.
  • Both active and passive smoking are harmful for the body.
  • Manage your blood cholesterol, blood pressure as well as blood sugar.
  • Maintain optimum body weight. Limit your salt intake.

More than 34% Indians do not get enough physical activity

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Lack of exercise can lead to various health complications over time

New Delhi, 08 September 2018: According to a recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO), about 34% of Indians — 24.7% male and 43.9% females — are not active enough to stay healthy. Globally, more than 1.4 billion adults are at risk of diseases from not doing enough physical activity. The study also notes that there is no improvement in global levels of physical activity since 2001. If the current trends continue, the 2025 global activity target of a 10% relative reduction in insufficient physical activity will not be met.

Lack of exercise can increase the risk of health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, Type 2 diabetes, dementia, and some cancers, over time. This coupled with unhealthy eating patterns and family history of diseases can exacerbate the situation even further.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “The negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle are well known. White collar workers or people who have desk jobs spend most of their working hours sitting in chairs. Interventions that encourage walking and physical activity in the workplace are needed to counter the negative health effects of sedentary behavior. Exercise has various benefits including preventing weight gain, controlling blood sugar levels, and other conditions. A minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity every day is very beneficial.”

The various health benefits of walking are well recognized. It has been shown in a study published earlier this year in the American Journal of Epidemiology that lack of exercise affects the human body right up to the cellular level. Elderly women who sit for more than 10 hours a day with low physical activity had cells that were biologically older by eight years compared to women who are more active.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Small and gradual changes can be made in the family so that no one is left out. This will also be encouraging for youngsters with adults setting examples for a healthy lifestyle. Such changes can also help people in losing weight and make better eating choices. This is truer for those with a genetic susceptibility to the condition. Operating as a team, a family, is much more likely to be successful.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • A diet rich in whole grain, fruits, and vegetables is very good for the body. Fibrous food will ensure that you feel fuller for a longer period and prevent any cravings. Avoid processed and refined food as much as possible.
  • Too much alcohol leads to weight gain and can increase your blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Men should limit drinks to two per day and women to one per day. Smokers are twice as likely to develop diabetes as non-smokers and therefore, it is a good idea to quit this habit.
  • Understand your risk factors. Doing so can help you in taking preventive measures at the earliest and avoid complications.

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