Q. In your experience, do you
see any improvement in kidney health awareness among the Indian population?
Sadly, No. Media messages are trying to spread kidney health awareness
but people—both literate and illiterate, have not taken the message seriously.
They don't realize the importance of safeguarding their kidneys and see a
doctor only after the damage is done.
Primary Care Physicians or General Physicians (GP) have the advantage
of getting people to focus on kidney health. If a patient above 40 years sees a
GP for some illness, the GP should ensure that the person takes a
Plasma Creatinine Test and a Urine test for albumin and blood. The normal upper
limit of Creatinine is 1.2 mg for a man and 1 mg or less for a woman.
The person should also be tested for fasting blood sugar
. These tests can
reveal hidden kidney problems for which the symptoms may not surface till a
much advanced stage.
Normal BP for young people:
Normal BP for old people : 140/90 mmHg
Q. Why is there a twin focus on
the kidneys and the heart, this World Kidney Day?
Kidney disease that is not detected and treated at an early stage is a
great multiplier for heart attack. Majority of the people with kidney disease
die of heart attack and they may not even have had symptoms of a kidney ailment
in the first place. Current statistics show that in the US about 13% of
the people have chronic kidney diseases (CKD), with a projected increase to 37%
in those aged 50 years and above and an increase to 50% in those above 75 years
Q. Recently there are popular
ads on the Indian TV that show a woman emptying a whole sachet of ajinomoto
(monosodium glutamate) to enhance Indian food preparations. Isn't that bad for
There is very clear evidence that using too much salt of any kind in
food can produce long term irreversible damage in kidneys, lungs and heart. In
the absence of any serious media watchdog, the consumer has to exercise caution
and not fall for flashy ads endorsing lip smacking food items such as chips
that are high in salt content. GPs and pediatricians can advise their patients
on healthy food habits and prevent them from swaying towards poor food choices.
Q. Tell us about TANKER
Foundation and its commitment to promote better kidney health?
Tamil Nadu Kidney Research Foundation (TANKER) is a non profit
organization that we started in 1993 to provide medical care to underprivileged
patients with kidney diseases of any kind—reversible or terminal. TANKER's
primary objective is to sustain the gift of life. It has 3 main arms—one is to
provide treatment and dialysis for poor patients with kidney ailments by
supporting them with medication and even transplantation, either free of cost
or at a subsidized rate, depending on the need. TANKER works against the stigma
attached to HIV/AIDS patients with kidney disease to help them live with
dignity. The second arm of TANKER deals with research in kidney diseases
focusing on Continuing Medical Education (CME) in this field. The third wing
works to spread awareness among people about screening for early detection and
eradication of kidney diseases. Our vision is a world that ensures good healthcare
and medical facilities for everyone.
Q. Please give some preventive
tips to protect the kidneys?
• Check your blood sugar and blood pressure
levels regularly. In fact, ideally blood pressure should be checked for children too, from age 3 onwards.
• Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 24 or less.
• Avoid fast food
—they are prepared to tickle your palate and make you eat more. They are the surest way to diabetes and high blood pressure
• Parents should lead by example— follow a health diet and lifestyle
and ingrain basic rules for healthy living in your children.
• Use a visit to your GP to clear your doubts on food habits and lifestyle changes.
• Eat smart, exercise regularly and lead an active life.
If you haven't spared a thought for your kidneys, it's time to start
now. Take a serious look at your food habits and lifestyle and make suitable
alterations. Step out this World Kidney Day 2011 to get yourself checked to
rule out diabetes and high blood pressure. Protect your kidneys, Save your
heart, Save yourself.