This month, take a few minutes to appreciate your kidneys. These workhorses filter wastes, toxins and excess fluids from the blood, regulate the balance of ions and other chemicals in your body, and release hormones important for blood production, blood pressure regulation, and calcium balance.
Given all that they have to do, it’s no surprise that damage to the kidneys can cause serious problems. Sudden damage can result in acute kidney failure but more commonly the damage accumulates over time and leads to a gradual decrease in the kidneys’ ability to do their many jobs. This type of damage is known as chronic kidney disease, and the later stages can cause complications such as heart disease, anemia, and nerve damage. End-stage kidney disease is defined by kidney failure and requires either lifelong dialysis — where a person’s blood is pumped through a machine that acts like an artificial kidney — or a kidney transplant.
During this month, 23andMe will be adding new reports and associations on kidney disease to help our customers become better informed about these conditions. This week, we released a new Established Research report on Chronic Kidney Disease and updated our Preliminary Research report on Kidney Disease to include more preliminary findings for chronic kidney disease as well as new findings for a less common kidney condition known as idiopathic membranous nephropathy. In the coming weeks, also look for an update to our report on Type 2 Diabetes (a major cause of kidney disease) and a new report on kidney stones.
Fortunately, many of the things that keep kidneys healthy are things that keep the rest of you healthy as well. These things include maintaining healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels, being physically active, limiting sodium intake, and eating a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, you should also talk to your doctor about getting screened regularly, as these conditions increase your risk for kidney disease.
Check out these resources for learning more about your kidneys and kidney disease:
- National Kidney Disease Education Program – 10 things you can do to protect your kidneys
- Kidney Disease Awareness on Facebook
- National Kidney Foundation – Chronic kidney disease