Prevent and treat chronic kidney disease

March is National Kidney Month

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published March 11, 2015

 Danny Zivian, 13, of West Bloomfield, left, and his brother, Matthew Zivian, 12, right, sell bracelets to benefit the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan. Danny has stage 3 chronic kidney disease, but he observes a lifestyle geared at delaying kidney failure.

Danny Zivian, 13, of West Bloomfield, left, and his brother, Matthew Zivian, 12, right, sell bracelets to benefit the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan. Danny has stage 3 chronic kidney disease, but he observes a lifestyle geared at delaying kidney failure.

Photo courtesy of Debra Zivian

Advertisement

METRO DETROIT — Chronic kidney disease is what Dr. Arthur Franke terms a “silent killer” because once people have the disease, they tend not to feel ill. He said about 900,000 people in Michigan have chronic kidney disease, but most of them don’t know it.

Franke, senior vice president and chief science officer at the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan, said the foundation’s mission is to prevent kidney disease from ever happening, as well as to improve the quality of life of those living with it.

The two main groups who should be concerned about prevention, he said, are those with diabetes and those with uncontrolled high blood pressure. He said that 70 percent of kidney failures occur in individuals in one of those two groups.

The only way to find out for sure, Franke said, is through specific blood and urine tests, which at-risk individuals should have yearly. He said age, genetics and race also play into the likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease.

“Chronic kidney disease can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes, including healthy choices about what you eat and drink and physical activity,” Franke said. “You can usually prevent the rate at which chronic kidney disease is worsening and prevent you from going on dialysis or getting a transplant.”

Without treatment, Franke said kidneys could stop working, which is kidney failure, and once the kidneys fail, patients need dialysis — a machine to filter their blood — multiple times a week.

“(There are) 2,700 people in Michigan right now waiting for (a kidney),” he said.

Besides a healthy, nutritious diet and at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, Franke recommended that those at risk for chronic kidney disease drink 1.5-2 liters of water per day and avoid processed foods, because the sodium, nitrates and phosphates make the kidneys work harder.

He also advised that they reduce the use of over-the-counter pain medications, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and that they never exceed the recommended dosage.

According to the NKFM, the kidneys filter waste and perform vital functions that control things like red blood cell production and blood pressure. Franke said that kidney disease results when the tiny blood vessels used in the filtering process get damaged.

A rare case, Danny Zivian, 13, of West Bloomfield, was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in utero through a routine ultrasound.

“I am feeling pretty good right now,” Zivian said. “I’m kind of on the mild side. I get blood draws every few months and ultrasounds once in a while, and at school I carry around a water bottle.”

He said he also maintains a healthy, restricted diet that is low in protein and takes medication.

Zivian’s mother, Debra Zivian, said that besides not being able to play contact sports or attend his eighth-grade trip to Israel, Danny lives just like other teenagers. She added that kidney disease can affect growth, so he also takes a growth hormone and undergoes regular bone scans.

“He’s been able to go to sleep-away camps and other trips; basically, stuff we thought at first would be borderline impossible,” Debra said.

Last year, Danny was the No. 1 fundraiser in the country for the National Kidney Foundation through the NKFM’s Kidney Walk at the Detroit Zoo, raising more than $20,000, Debra said.

NKFM Senior Communications Coordinator Lindsay White said Danny’s case proves that lifestyle changes can be made in order to delay or prevent kidney failure and the need for a transplant or dialysis.

For more information, visit www.nkfm.org/kidneymonth.

Advertisement