Kidney disease has risen from 13th to 10th place in the World Health Organization’s list of the world’s leading causes of death. Deaths from kidney disease have increased from 813 000 in 2000 to 1.3 million in 2019, according to the WHO. Heart disease is the biggest killer in the world at around 9 million deaths per year.
But what exactly is chronic kidney disease and how does it develop?
Kidney disease is when the two bean-shaped organs do not function properly, leaving your blood unfiltered.
This causes fluid and harmful waste products to build up in the body.
For some, the condition is hereditary, according to KwaZulu-Natal vascular surgeon Dr Vinesh Padayachy.
For others, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and age can raise the risk of developing kidney disease.
Since its inception in 2006, World Kidney Day has sought to shine a light on a silent killer that often goes by unnoticed by the media and governments.
Saudi Arabia and Belgium are said to have the highest rate of chronic kidney disease among developed countries, with 24% of the population suffering from the condition.
But Padayachy, who practises at the Ethekwini Lenmed Hospital and Heart Centre, says kidney disease is becoming prevalent in South Africa.
Unhealthy lifestyles and the low number of kidney donors are contributing to deaths from kidney disease, he added.
Some of the symptoms of the condition include fatigue and weakness as well as high blood pressure.
Padayachy provided some practical advice for prevent and manage kidney disease:
• Control your blood pressure: High blood pressure can damage the kidneys, so it is important to keep your blood pressure under control. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help lower your blood pressure.
• Control your blood sugar: If you have diabetes, it is important to keep your blood sugar levels under control to reduce the risk of kidney damage.
• Eat a healthy diet: Eating a diet that is low in salt and saturated fat, and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, can help keep your kidneys healthy.
• Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help improve your overall health and reduce the risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
• Stop smoking: Smoking can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of developing kidney disease.
• Limit alcohol consumption: Drinking too much alcohol can damage the kidneys; if you do drink, do it in moderation.