DEAR ABBY: As someone who has been dealing with diabetes for most of my life, I've made a point to have regular medical checkups to keep a close watch on my cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels. For a long time, I thought I was doing everything I could to stay healthy.
What I didn't realize until I attended a free screening offered by the National Kidney Foundation was that diabetes is one of the leading causes of chronic kidney disease. This screening, called "KEEP" for Kidney Early Evaluation Program, is designed to detect kidney disease in the early stages in people like me who have diabetes and other health problems that put us at risk.
I knew I had diabetes. But KEEP identified my chronic kidney disease, and I have since been taking measures to keep it under control. I have also learned that doctors do not routinely screen for kidney function. Twenty million Americans -- that's one in every nine adults -- have chronic kidney disease, and 20 million MORE Americans remain at risk.
I'm writing to you, Abby, to ask you to let your readers know that if they suspect they have high blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of kidney disease, they, too, could be at risk. March 8 is World Kidney Day -- and it is the day the National Kidney Foundation is offering free KEEP screenings in 30 cities around the United States.
World Kidney Day is not a "holiday." It's a time to find out your family's history, assess whether you might be at risk and get checked out. Hopefully, it is also a day people can celebrate the idea of enjoying long, healthier lives for themselves and those they love ... for KEEPS!
-- ALMA McBRIDE, MERRITT ISLAND, FLA.
DEAR ALMA: Thank you for your helpful and informative letter. I, for one, was unaware that high blood pressure and diabetes -- in addition to a family history -- could make people more vulnerable to kidney disease.
Readers, to locate the KEEP screening nearest you, visit � HYPERLINK "http://www.keeponline.org" ��www.keeponline.org�, or call the National Kidney Foundation toll-free at (800) 622-9010.