Here at Diabetes Self-Management, we often cover topics related to diabetes complications — including diabetic kidney disease. For anyone who reads about these topics on a regular basis, it can seem like common knowledge that having diabetes for a long time — especially with less-than-ideal blood glucose control — increases the risk of kidney dysfunction. But apparently, that message isn’t getting through to a lot of the general population.
A recent online survey, commissioned by the National Kidney Foundation and summarized in a press release, sought to find out how much Americans know about their kidney disease risk. It was conducted by The Harris Poll and weighted to reflect the general population in terms of age, gender, region, race/ethnicity, income and education level.
Perhaps most alarmingly, the poll found that 46% of Americans didn’t know that having diabetes increases a person’s risk for kidney failure, and 31% didn’t even know it increases the risk of developing kidney disease. Even among survey participants who said they had been diagnosed with diabetes, 14% didn’t know about the connection to kidney disease.
The press release points out that about 37 million Americans are estimated to have chronic kidney disease, but most of these people don’t even know they have it. About 1 in 3 Americans are considered to be at risk for the condition based on factors like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and family history.
“We must raise awareness among the American public that kidney disease is a dangerous, life-threatening condition that can be mitigated by early diagnosis” along with preventive efforts, says National Kidney Foundation CEO Kevin Longino in the press release. “We want to eliminate preventable kidney disease and help those with the disease to live the most full, productive and functional lives as possible.”
Want to learn more about keeping your kidneys healthy with diabetes? Read “Protecting Your Kidneys,” “Kidney Disease: Your Seven-Step Plan for Prevention” and “Ten Things to Know About Kidney Disease.”
A freelance health writer and editor based in Wisconsin, Phillips has a degree in government from Harvard University. He writes on a variety of topics, but is especially interested in the intersection of health and public policy.