World Kidney Day 2017 – what steps should you be taking?

World Kidney Day
World Kidney Day

World Kidney Day has been running for 10 years and aims to promote awareness of kidney diseases in the population. As many as 1 in 10 adults may have kidney disease and often this is not recognised until the disease is very advanced. If not detected and treated, kidney diseases can lead to kidney failure and the need for kidney transplantation or dialysis. Kidney disease also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Around 60,000 people in the UK currently undergo regular dialysis or have had a kidney transplant. In Leicestershire there are over 1000 such people.

Certain demographics are more at risk of kidney disease than others and the day aims to highlight this. Older people, people of South East Asian or Afro-Caribbean origin, people with diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure or those who are overweight are all more likely to develop forms of kidney disease.

This year’s theme for World Kidney Day is ‘Kidney Disease and Obesity’. Graham Warwick, Consultant Nephrologist at Leicester’s Hospitals, explains further: “Being overweight not only increases the risk of kidney diseases directly but also increases the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. This year’s campaign aims to promote healthy eating habits and exercise for people with kidney disease. We are encouraging staff and patients to maintain a minimum level of physical activity in any way they can regardless of their physical condition. Therefore, we have organised a day of events to highlight exercise for people with kidney disease.”

The kidney department at Leicester’s Hospital has a large team of clinicians and researchers led by Dr James Burton and Dr Alice Smith looking at exercise therapy for kidney disease. There are a number of themes for this research including cycling during haemodialysis sessions using static bikes. Patients receiving haemodialysis have to attend three times a week for four hours per session and often report subjective improvement while cycling during these sessions. This is now being carefully assessed in a scientific study.

Several patients will be cycling during dialysis at Leicester General Hospital on World Kidney Day including Kristina Bradshaw. Kristina, a retired receptionist from Leicestershire, explains why the department means so much to her: “I was diagnosed with glomerulonephritis in 1977. I had dialysis at home for three 3 years followed by a transplant that lasted 26 years. I returned to dialysis 11 years ago. I am cycling to improve my heart and muscles and taking part in World Kidney Day to show others the benefits and to encourage others to take part. What I like most about the team at Leicester General Hospital is that they are friendly helpful and efficient.”

Staff and patients will also be taking part in a fun 5-a-side football match on the old hospital lawn to mark World Kidney Day to encourage all to get active.