Kidney disease has become a "quiet epidemic" among black communities in Chicago, where "thousands" of black residents are "suffering kidney failure and facing the possibility of blindness, limb amputation, life on dialysis and premature death," the Chicago Tribune reports. The Tribune article is the first in a series examining the impact of chronic diseases on urban communities.
In parts of the city's South and West sides -- where the population is predominantly black -- the kidney failure rate is more than twice as high as the national average and three times as high as in the rest of the city's population, according to federal statistics. In Chicago's South Side communities, 390 in every 100,000 residents have end-stage kidney disease; the rate in West Side communities is 387 for every 100,000. Citywide, the rate is 124 cases per 100,000, while the nationwide rate is 150 per 100,000, according to the data. Hispanics also have an elevated risk of kidney failure, but "the problem is more acute" among blacks, according to the Tribune
. In the U.S., one in eight people who experience kidney failure is Hispanic, while one in three is black.
Experts contend that the higher rates of kidney failure among blacks can be attributed to a "combination of overlapping factors," including high rates of diabetes and hypertension; obesity; high concentrations of poverty; and "a lack of access to medical care, health insurance, affordable, safe places to exercise and supermarkets that sell inexpensive, healthy foods," the Tribune
reports. In addition, in black communities in Chicago, "dialysis centers are full," and many residents "suffer serious, chronic illness during the prime of life, making them too sick to work and unable to move ahead economically," according to the Tribune
In an effort to reduce blacks' high rate of kidney failure, support groups, and religious and community leaders across the city are distributing educational materials in black communities and offering health screenings, interventions and other outreach efforts, the Tribune
reports. Donna Calvin, a Chicago nurse practitioner who specializes in kidney disease prevention, said, "Hypertension and diabetes are killing us," adding, "These diseases are devastating our community".
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation