MANILA, JULY 2, 2006
 (STAR) Here’s a warning to those who suffer or are prone to frequent urinary tract infections, kidney stones, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. You are at risk of developing another deadly complication – kidney disease.

"Our records show the morbidity and mortality rates of kidney disease in the Philippines have been on the rise," said Dr. Helen Ocdol, a nephrologist at St. Luke’s Medical Center.

"Extrapolated statistics based on population estimates peg the prevalence of kidney disease at approximately 2.3 million. It the tenth leading cause of mortality for the past seven years," she said.

Ocdol attributes the rise to poor dietary practices, smoking, alcohol abuse and sedentary lifestyles. It is also worthwhile noting that Asians are more at risk for developing renal complications of systemic lupus erythematosus, a chronic inflammatory disease of connective tissue affecting the skin and various internal organs.

"The most effective weapon against kidney disease remains to be prevention," she said. "Efforts to increase public awareness are very important and should take precedence."

The kidneys, a pair of bean-shaped organs at the bottom of the ribcage and near the back, are part of the urinary system. They cleanse the blood and rid it of excess water and waste in the form of urine.

They receive blood from the aorta, filter it and send it back to the heart with the right balance of chemicals and fluid for use throughout the body.

Kidneys control the quantity and quality of fluids within the body. They also produce hormones and vitamins that direct cell activities in many organs.

In the later stages of kidney disease, stopping the progression of the disease or recovering normal renal function may not be possible, Ocdol said.

When this happens, the objective will then be to slow down the progression of the disease and prepare the patient for future renal replacement therapy.

Major strides, however, have been achieved in diagnosing and treating kidney diseases she said. Treatment has evolved to include and emphasize non-pharmacologic and supportive aspects. Dietary restrictions, avoidance of known nephrotoxic agents and improved blood sugar and blood pressure control now are major aspects of treatment.

The latest trends in managing kidney disease was the focus of the 6th Postgraduate Course held recently by the St. Luke’s Department of Medicine-Section of Nephrology and the St. Luke’s Transplant Service.

Titled "Updates on Kidney Diseases in General Practice," the two-day course featured topic ranging from "Ultrasound of the Kidneys: Interpretation and New Concepts," "The Kidney in Liver Diseases" to "Role of Dietary Supplements-An Assessment."

"With fora like this, we help the clinician interpret the more commonly requested diagnostic examinations in kidney diseases, clarify the role of nutrition and herbal medications in the management of kidney diseases and increase awareness among clinicians on the option of kidney transplantation," said Ocdol.

"All these efforts are aimed at promoting early recognition of kidney disease as well as early and timely referral to a nephrologist once kidney diseases have been detected to delay the onset of complications," she added.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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