DEAR ABBY: I always knew high blood pressure ran in my family, but I never realized it could cause kidney disease. Then I attended one of the National Kidney Foundation's free kidney health screenings and was shocked to learn that my lab results showed a decline in my kidney function. Because I felt healthy, I hadn't worried about my "borderline" hypertension. Turns out, my kidneys were silently being damaged.
I have since made lifestyle changes to control my blood pressure and prevent further damage. These include daily exercise and cutting back on salt, sweets and fast food.
Kidney disease and its leading causes -- high blood pressure and diabetes -- run in families, and one in three American adults are at risk. Many people don't realize that early detection can make a critical difference, protecting the kidneys and preventing damage.
March is National Kidney Month, and March 14 is World Kidney Day. The National Kidney Foundation is urging Americans to learn their risk factors for kidney disease and to get their kidneys checked with a simple urine and blood test. They will offer more advice on protecting these vital organs and staying healthy. For a schedule of free kidney health screenings across the country, not only during March but throughout the year, visit the National Kidney Foundation website at kidney.org. -- JEFF CARTER, BUFFALO, N.Y.
DEAR JEFF: I'm glad you wrote because I was taken aback to learn that more than 26 million American adults and thousands of children have chronic kidney disease.
Readers, it's important to be checked because millions of people with diabetes, hypertension and other diseases do not realize they're at risk for developing kidney disease. Could this include you or someone you love?