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Helping People Better Understand and Manage Chronic Kidney Disease

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Learning that you or a loved one has chronic kidney disease (CKD) can be overwhelming. CKD means that the kidneys are damaged and can't filter blood like they should. This damage can cause wastes to build up in the body. It can also cause other problems that can harm one's health.

The National Kidney Disease Education Program (NKDEP), an initiative of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has a number of helpful resources and materials to educate living with CKD. These materials help people and their loved ones understand and manage the disease so that they can live long and productive lives.

One NKDEP resource for recently diagnosed patients, "Chronic Kidney Disease: What Does It Mean for Me?", explains the basics of CKD and helps answer some of common questions. The good news is that people can take simple steps to manage the disease, such as choosing foods with less salt (sodium) and keeping blood pressure at the level set by their health provider. For most people, the blood pressure target is less than 140/90 mm Hg.

What people eat and drink can help slow down CKD. Some foods are better for the kidneys than others. The tip sheet, "Eating Right for Kidney Health," provides the basics of nutrition and CKD. It is designed to help guide conversations with a dietitian or other health professional.

People with CKD need to be careful about the medicines they take, because their kidneys do not filter as well as they did in the past. This can cause an increase in the amount of medicine in the blood. Some medicines can also harm the kidneys. To learn more, NKDEP has a brochure, "Chronic Kidney Disease and Medicines: What You Need to Know," which encourages people to talk with their pharmacist if they have questions, or are looking for information and support.

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