1. Health

Chronic Kidney Disease: At Thanksgiving, Discuss Your Family’s Risk

By November 24, 2009

African-American Family, Fotolia © Gino Santa Maria - Fotolia.com

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a devastating disease process that afflicts African Americans, American Indians, and Hispanic Americans disproportionally. It can lead to chronic kidney failure (CKF) and make you dependent on kidney dialysis.

The leading causes of chronic kidney disease are high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

Compared with white Americans:

  • African Americans are nearly 4 times as likely to develop chronic kidney failure
  • American Indians have a 3-fold increase in chronic kidney failure
  • Hispanic Americans have double the risk of chronic kidney failure

Years ago, many devoted African-American urologists went to churches on Sunday to educate African-Americans about their increased risk for prostate cancer, and elevated risk for more aggressive prostate cancer at earlier ages than white Americans. Bringing health messages to areas of worship or barber shops, or anywhere you can find high-risk groups available for listening is worthwhile. Thanksgiving weekend is a time when people are often ready to listen.

Kidney Sundays

The National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive Disorders, and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), an institute of the National Institutes of Health has launched an initiative called "Kidney Sundays." You can download materials for free from their website on the program and use them to discuss risk factors for chronic diseases, and ways to help lower your risk. Admittedly, it is not the most joyful discussion to share over a Thanksgiving meal, but you might want to bring it up later over the weekend when all of you are together.

Related Materials

Chronic kidney disease. Downloaded Nov. 24, 2009 from familydoctor.org.

Chronic kidney disease: a family affair. Downloaded Nov. 24, 2009 from the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Clearinghouse.

November 24, 2009 at 3:24 pm
(1) Lynne says:

Thanks so much for posting this Laura, to help raise awareness. We here a lot about heart disease and cancer, but not so much about kidney failure. Chemotherapy isn’t fun, but dialysis is no walk in the park either. I think if more people were aware of this problem and the complications that can result, they would be more likely to do what is needed on the prevention end. Thanks also for taking the stand for those people most affected who need our voices the most. It warms my heart this Thanksgiving season.

November 24, 2009 at 6:54 pm
(2) Norman says:

A lot of black people don’t trust doctors, and they’re not entirely irrational to feel that way. Most of the African-American people who are old enough for kidney disease to develop were brought up at a time when medical students would train on black patients in order to be proficient when they moved on to white patients. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748704107204574469300906842802.html

November 24, 2009 at 9:21 pm
(3) urology says:

I think that we can dwell on a “horrid past” or take positive steps going forward. We have some excellent African American physicians in urology and nephrology, including the current head of the American Cancer Society. I never thought that I would live to see an African-American elected president and in a landslide. Racial barriers probably aren’t tumbling down, but this is a reasonable outreach effort to improve the health of people disproportionally affected.

November 26, 2009 at 12:34 pm
(4) Dolores Rogers says:

Appreciate the educational value of this posting.

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