One person in every 14 (around 7%), do not know what their kidneys do.
That’s a worrying statistic. Here’s another; only one in every two people know that their kidneys make urine. This is probably why each year, some 100,000 people die from a ‘silent’ killer; known in the medical world as Acute Kidney Injury (AKI).
Even worse, up to 30% of these deaths could be prevented with the right care and treatment.
Don’t be fooled – AKI does not, as the name suggests, occur as a result of physical trauma to the kidneys. AKI refers to any sudden decline in kidney function and is most often seen during episodes of acute illness; and patients were mostly only diagnosed in hospital. If not treated, the potentially fatal condition, acute renal failure could follow.
AKI is both common and preventable, with nearly two hundred and fifty thousand patients with the condition being admitted to hospital nationally each year.
AKI occurs mostly to patients over the age of 65 who are already chronically sick with other long term illness or conditions, such as diabetes, chronic vascular disease, chronic kidney disease, cancer, or heart or liver disease.
Research has shown that small biochemical changes in the blood can pick-up the first of three stages of AKI disease. It is this early detection that allows doctors to begin prompt and early treatment to reverse the damaging long term effects on the kidneys.
Treatments can be simple, and include ensuring that patients stay well hydrated – drinking plenty of fluids to stay healthy is not just an old wives’ tale – In some cases, doctors may also decide to adjust medications to prevent decline caused through drug toxicity.
Pathology laboratories are now automatically placing AKI warnings on the results of blood tests requested by GPs; and it is this development that will help save thousands of lives each year.
Dr Richard Jones, from NHS England’s Wessex Cardiovascular Strategic Network; a dedicated network made up of clinicians from across Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight said; “ Drinking plenty of fluids is really important if you are at risk of dehydration; for example, if you have a fever or diarrhoea and vomiting. People need to be are aware of the dangers of Acute Kidney Injury and to be aware that they can reduce the risk to themselves by looking after their kidneys and making sure that they drink enough fluids regularly. Doing so will help to save thousands of lives each year.”