The National Kidney Foundation of Southern California hosted "KEEP It Hollywood" on World Kidney Day, March 12, 2009 in Studio City. Celebrity and media guests joined foundation spokespeople George and Ann Lopez to participate in the KEEP (Kidney Early Evaluation Program) mini-screening to help raise awareness of kidney disease.
This disease affects 26 million Americans and having chronic kidney disease multiplies the risk for heart disease and stroke. Public education initiatives will highlight kidney disease as treatable because there is now strong evidence that early detection, altering lifestyle factors and aggressively controlling blood pressure not only slow down the progression of chronic kidney disease to kidney failure but can also reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease that leads to premature death.
Do you or a family member have diabetes or high blood pressure? Does an immediate family member have kidney disease? If so, you are at risk for kidney disease. Some of the early warning signs of kidney and urinary tract disease are: High blood pressure, protein and/or blood in the urine, Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of less than 60, more frequent urination, particularly at night and puffiness around eyes, swelling of hands and feet. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor right away.
I caught up with Mr. Lopez and asked him about his experience with kidney disease.
Q. What are your thoughts on kidney disease?
A. My thoughts are that I had a kidney transplant four years ago and it's important for all people to get checked. Some cultures go to the doctor and some don't. It's not a disease that is painful ÔÇô it's slow and debilitating. Know the warning signs like hypertension and a family history of diabetes. I didn't know the warning signs and I didn't go to the doctor as often as I should have.
Q. Did you have any pains or warning signs?
A. I was really tired and I thought it was because I was working so much. That's the thing about kidney disease you think you're just tired and in reality, it's destroying you from the inside.
Q. Your wife, Ann donated her kidney to you. What are some of the misperceptions about donating a kidney?
A. That you can't live a healthy life. You have two kidneys and you can live with one. The other kidney assumes responsibility for the other kidney, it gets bigger and it works harder. People can save others lives and they do every day.
Q. What would you say to our Latino readers because I know that this disease really affects our population?
A. I would say go to the doctor; get your blood work done. Know your health and continue to evaluate your own body. Don't ignore the warning signs.
Here are nine things everyone should do: Exercise regularly, control your weight, follow a balanced diet. Quit smoking, drink only in moderation. Stay hydrated. Monitor your cholesterol levels. Get an annual physical and know your family medical history.