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Time to check your kidney function

27 February 2018

Torres Strait, Cape York and Northern Peninsula Area residents are being urged to have a
kidney health check as part of Kidney Health Week from 5–11 March.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Acting Executive Director of Medical Services Dr
Tony Brown said chronic kidney disease could be slowed and might even be reversible if found
early and treated appropriately.

“That’s why it is important for people to have regular health checks, including kidney health
checks, by visiting their doctor, health clinic or primary health care centre,’’ he said.

“A simple blood, urine and blood-pressure check is all it will take.”

Having a kidney health check was particularly important in the Far North because Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander residents were four times as likely to die with chronic kidney disease
as a cause of death than non-Indigenous residents, Dr Brown said.

According to Kidney Health Australia, one in 10 adults have reduced kidney function or other
signs of chronic kidney disease, yet less than 10 per cent of people are aware of it.

“This is why it is called the silent disease, as 90 per cent of kidney function may be lost without
feeling any symptoms,’’ Dr Brown said.

“Diabetes is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease, followed by infections and high blood

“All three can be prevented, often by simple changes to lifestyle and personal health.’’

Dr Brown said the likelihood of a person developing chronic kidney disease was based on a
number of factors.

“People who have a family history of kidney disease, have diabetes, high blood pressure, are
overweight or smoke are at high risk of developing kidney disease,’’ he said.

‘‘People who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent are also at higher risk.

“Anyone who thinks they might be at risk should see a doctor and have a kidney function test.

‘‘Early intervention is vital.

‘‘Although chronic kidney disease is considered preventable and treatable; often the signs and
symptoms of kidney disease go undetected until it is too late.

‘‘What can happen then is that a person can progress to end stage kidney disease which
requires kidney replacement therapy such as lifetime dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant.’’

Dr Brown said the main function of a person’s kidney was to remove toxins and excess water
from the blood.

“Without kidney function our body dies, so that’s why it’s important to keep our kidneys healthy,’’
he said.

These adult Australians are at greatest risk of Chronic Kidney Disease:

  • Aged 60+
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin
  • Have diabetes
  • Have a family history of kidney disease
  • Have established heart problems (heart failure or past heart attack) and/or have had a
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Are obese (BMI>=30)
  • Are a smoker.

What you can do to reduce your risk of kidney disease:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay fit
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Be a non-smoker
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Reduce stress
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Control your blood glucose if you have diabetes.


Photo caption: Dr Tony Brown, Acting Executive Director of Medical Services

Last updated: 9 March 2018