Survey Shows Blacks Not Concerned Enough About Kidney Disease

Survey Shows Blacks Not Concerned Enough About Kidney Disease

JACKSON, Miss.    
Health officials may have an uphill battle in educating Blacks about a disease that’s being called a “silent killer,” a recent survey shows.    
Kidney disease is an illness that’s become more prevalent, especially in the nation’s Black population, but a survey conducted in Jackson, Atlanta, Baltimore and Cleveland shows only 15 percent of those surveyed thought they were at risk for getting the disease.  
The National Kidney Disease Education Program surveyed more than 2,000 Blacks 30 and older to assess their knowledge and awareness of kidney disease.   
Dr. John Bower, a member of the local coalition directing Jackson’s program and former chief of nephrology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, said the survey shows most people have no clue about how to prevent kidney disease.
“Kidney disease is a silent killer,” Bower said. “People find themselves in the emergency room, on dialysis, before they even know they have a problem. That’s why it’s so important to control diabetes and high blood pressure and have your blood and urine regularly tested … once you know you are at risk.” 
The major risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure or a blood relative with the disease.
“The beautiful thing is that if we can control blood pressure and diabetes, it’s a good possibility that we can do something (about kidney disease),” Bower said.
About 20 million people have kidney disease in this country. Another 400,000 are on dialysis or have had a kidney transplant because their kidneys failed. \Although 90 percent of those surveyed had heard about kidney disease, only 15 percent thought their personal risk for getting the disease was higher than average.   
Fewer knew how specifically to prevent it, but 44 percent of those polled had at least one of the major risk factors.    
The survey will be used as a tool to design a yearlong pilot program aimed at reducing the number of Blacks affected by the disease. In the next few months, health care officials will test the program in Jackson and the other three cities before taking it across the nation.

— Associated Press



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