Although 10% of the population has some degree of chronic kidney disease, the condition is overlooked, and the numbers are set to rise over the coming decade, health experts warned on World Kidney Day.
Around 600 million people worldwide have some form of kidney damage. While chronic kidney disease can occur at any time of life, it becomes more common with age, according to the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF).
Many conditions affecting the kidneys are more common in older people, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Chronic kidney disease increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, and in some cases can progress to kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplantation.
The disease is predicted to increase by 17% over the next decade, but if detected early and managed appropriately, the deterioration in kidney function can be slowed or even stopped. But awareness of kidney diseases is still very low, and many people underestimate the vital role their kidneys play.
The ISN and IFKF say people should keep their kidneys in mind by starting the day drinking a glass of water on World Kidneys Day. The event takes place on 13 March to raise awareness of the diseases related to kidneys problems.
"Our mission is to stimulate awareness, discussion, education and policy development leading to improved prevention and treatment of chronic kidney disease," said John Feehally, co-chair of the World Kidney Day's Steering Committee.
"This year’s theme is focused on chronic kidney disease and aging: About half of people aged 75 or more have some degree of chronic kidney disease. We want them to be smart about their kidneys by taking a simple blood and urine tests to detect chronic kidney disease early. Our message to the general public is: Talk to your doctor."
On World Kidney Day, professor Guillermo Garcia Garcia from the World Kidney Day's Steering Committee said the whole civil society, governments, health professionals and patients around the globe should start their day with a glass of water.
"Drinking a glass of water will not cure your kidneys, but will certainly help you to remember that you need to take care of them."
Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes, are by far the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing 60% of all deaths, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Out of the 35 million people who died from chronic disease in 2005, half were under 70, and half were women.
This invisible epidemic is an under-appreciated cause of poverty, and hinders the economic development of many countries.
- 13 March: World Kidney Day.