Sunday, May 26, 2024

Why cases of kidney disease are more rampant in poor neighbourhoods

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Kidney disease is now becoming one of the most deadly diseases in Kenya. It is estimated that by year 2030, at least 4.8 million Kenyans will be suffering from kidney disease.

Currently, at least one in every 10 people has a form of chronic kidney disease. Globally, it is estimated that 50 million people have kidney disease. This means that Kenya is fast becoming one of the most affected countries by the disease.

The Kenya Renal Association estimates that the number of people undergoing blood purification and treatment known as chronic haemodialysis increased from 300 in 2006 to 2,400 in 2018.

This increase was recorded in both private and public hospitals. In addition, by 2017, the Ministry of Health estimated that up to 4 million Kenyans had chronic kidney disease.

A significant proportion of this population was feared to be at risk of progressing to full blown kidney failure. Out of these patients, 10,000 had end stage renal disease and required dialysis. Currently, it is estimated that at least one in every 10 people has a form of chronic kidney disease.

Incidentally, the social and economic status of your residential area can determine if you will get chronic kidney disease or not.

If you live in a low income residential area in an urban area, the chances of you being exposed to risk factors that can result in chronic kidney disease are high.

For instance, a 2021 medical research that examined the connection between chronic kidney disease and low income residential by medical scientists from Drexel University’s Donrsife School of Public Health, found out that people who live in low socioeconomic neighborhoods in urban areas are more likely to have kidney disease than those living in higher socioeconomic areas.

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 “The higher rates of kidney disease in poor residential areas herald a set of secondary health outcomes for residents. These include poor blood sugar control among patients with chronic kidney disease, and poor blood pressure control in residents without chronic kidney disease,” said Dr. Meera Nair Harhay, a nephrologist and hypertension researcher.

A common contributing factor to the high prevalence rates was the scarcity of public health resources. “The most vulnerable neighborhoods have the least health and social resources. This further exacerbates the occurrence of kidney ailment,” Dr. Harhay said.

The presence of blood sugar and pressure problems was linked to the lack of an environment that supports proper, all rounded physical activities including walkability.

Crime and violence, and access to healthy food were also singled out as contributing factors. “Residential environments that promote physical activity are more protective when it comes to blood pressure and blood sugar management,” said Dr. Harhay.

She adds that the low likelihood of health monitoring, kidney wellness awareness, diagnostic costs, and expedited search for medical testing and diagnosis among populations living in low-income areas are also contributing factors.

This might also explain the rising incidents of kidney disease among patients with gout. According to an analysis by the University of Limerick’s (UL) Graduate Entry Medical School, UK, patients with gout are now at an increased risk of getting chronic kidney disease and kidney failure.

This analysis was globally hailed as the largest and most detailed medical examination on patients with a diagnosis of gout. It involved 620,000 gout patients.

“While uric acid might be bad for kidneys, patients with gout are twice more likely to be affected by advanced kidney disease, kidney failure, and death,” said Professor Austin Stack who authored the medical analysis report.

“When we examined the risk of kidney failure and the patients who were in need of dialysis or a kidney transplant, we found out that patients with gout had more than a 200 per cent higher risk of developing kidney failure than patients without gout.”

Gout is the most common inflammatory arthritis that causes severe pain due to the build-up of uric acid in joints. Instead of the uric acid being removed through the kidneys into the urine, a body disorder causes its levels to increase forming crystals that are deposited in joints.

Gout often has the predisposition for hitting the big toe of the foot. Both gout and kidney diseases affect men more due to their lifestyles and failure to reach out for medical help early enough.

According to Dr. Geoffrey Njau, a consultant physician based in Nakuru County, chronic kidney disease is a long term disease that affects kidneys and leads to renal failure.

“This disease can be tricky to spot without a medical test because not all patients show symptoms,” he says. Symptoms develop slowly as the kidneys fail.

Symptoms of kidney problems include blood in the urine, foamy urine, swelling of feet and face and difficulty in breathing. With advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD), a patient may develop loss of appetite, increased sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and difficulty in thinking.

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