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Diabetes Discoveries & Practice Blog

Help Your Patients Build Paths to Better Kidney Health

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Help your patients create a personal kidney care plan for long-term kidney health.

March is National Kidney Month, a time to raise awareness about the importance of kidney health. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects an estimated 37 million adults, yet as many as 9 in 10 people with CKD are not aware they have the disease. For Americans with diabetes, the risk for CKD is even greater. Nearly 1 in 3 people with diabetes have kidney disease.

The NIDDK is building paths to better kidney care through cutting-edge research that is changing the way we understand, treat, and prevent kidney disease. Until recently, CKD was thought of as a single disease with a single treatment. Research now suggests that there are many different types of CKD, and each type may require a unique treatment. With knowledge gained from research, one of our goals is  for  health care professionals to develop targeted treatment plans based on the needs of individual patients.

The NIDDK's Kidney Precision Medicine Project (KPMP) is one example of research that is helping to transform the future of kidney health. KPMP is gathering kidney biopsies from people with CKD from across all walks of life, races, and age groups, and researchers will use this data to better predict which treatment and prevention approaches may work for different groups of people. To learn more about the KPMP—or to find out if a patient may be eligible to join the study—visit the KPMP website.

While the research takes time to develop into treatment options, you can help your patients take steps now to build paths to better kidney health.

  • Encourage your patients to take an active role in their care. Explain what medicines do and why it’s important to take them as directed. Talk about the benefits of a kidney-healthy lifestyle, including managing weight, eating healthy, staying active, and getting enough sleep. Encourage questions and welcome open dialogue.
  • Brainstorm ways your patients can successfully adopt a kidney-healthy lifestyle. Consider their lifestyle, mobility, health status, and dietary needs. Help your patients set realistic goals and let them know if something isn’t working it can be adjusted.
  • Be familiar with community and online resources. Are there community groups for smoking cessation, weight control, or stress management? Where are safe places your patients can go to be physically active? Are there apps you would recommend to help your patients track activity or diet?
  • Know when to refer. Your patients may need additional team members with different skill sets and expertise. Refer them to registered dietician nutritionists, nephrologists, or wellness counselors as soon as they are needed.

As your patients’ health status changes, work with them to adjust their plans. Customized kidney care plans may not only help prolong your patients’ kidney health but can also help to manage your patients’ blood glucose levels and blood pressure.

Check out our National Kidney Month page for information and resources you can use to spread awareness on the importance of patients taking charge of their kidney health, including a toolkit with a flyer, video, and shareable social media posts.

What tips do you have for managing and supporting patients who have CKD? Tell us in the comments.


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