Indigenous Australians are more than twice as likely to have indicators of chronic kidney disease and four times more likely to die with it, yet the vast majority do not know they are at increased risk, according to Australia’s leading kidney health organisation.

Kidney Health Australia Interim CEO, Dr Lisa Murphy said raising awareness is the key focus of this year’s Kidney Health Week (March 5-11).

“A lack of awareness of kidney disease is an issue across the entire population because kidney disease can progress very silently. It is especially concerning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults as almost 20% have indicators of chronic kidney disease,” she said.

Kidney Health Australia is urging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to get a kidney health check by their GP, as research shows 9 out of 10 of Indigenous people with indicators of chronic kidney disease did not know they were at high risk of developing the illness.

“Our message to Indigenous Australians this Kidney Health Week is, don’t wait until you feel sick, get your kidneys checked by a GP now,” Dr Murphy said.

Dr Murphy said while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represent less than 2.5 percent of the national population, they account for approximately eleven percent of people commencing kidney replacement therapy each year.

“Late referral is a real issue in successful treatment of chronic kidney disease with Indigenous Australians more likely to be referred late to a nephrologist,” she said.

“Ninety percent of kidney function can be lost without any symptoms, therefore early detection and referral is critical. If kidney deterioration is detected early it is often highly treatable and in some cases, may even be reversed.”

Dr Murphy said the situation was more difficult for Indigenous Australian adults in remote communities, where access to services, education and tertiary level treatments such as dialysis is limited.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults living in remote areas are more than twice as likely as those living in non-remote areas to have signs of chronic kidney disease and shockingly, 18 to 20 times more likely to have end stage kidney disease than comparable non-Indigenous peoples,” she said.

One in three people living in Australia is at risk of developing chronic kidney disease and 53 are dying with kidney related disease every day but most are unaware they have it until it is too late.

Australians at risk of developing chronic kidney disease include those who have diabetes, high blood pressure, established heart problems such as heart failure or heart attack, have had a previous stroke, a family history of kidney failure, are obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, smoke, have a history of acute kidney injury, are 60+ years or are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin.

Kidney Health Australia is encouraging Indigenous Australians to get their kidneys checked by a GP during Kidney Health Week.

For further information about kidney health in Indigenous Australians log onto: http://kidney.org.au/advocacy/guidance-and-tools/indigenous-health/overview-539

Hashtag: #KHW18

About Kidney Health Australia

Kidney Health Australia, formerly the Australian Kidney Foundation, is a national health care charity and peak body with a vision ‘to save and improve the lives of Australians affected by kidney disease. In 2018, Kidney Health Australia celebrates its 50th anniversary. 

For media enquiries, please contact:

Tamara Jenkins, Esencia Communications

E: tamara@esenciacommunications.com.au

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