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Categories Kidney Diet, Kidney Disease, Kundan Kidney Care Centre, Risk Factors

Dealing With Anemia From Kidney Disease

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If you think the kidneys have little to do with the composition of your blood, think again. There are reasons why anemia (a lack of sufficient red blood cells) is a problem that plagues kidney disease patients. It isn’t just that kidneys filter wastes from the blood and flush them from the body. The fact is that the kidneys themselves are partly responsible for the blood’s very composition.

Kidneys play an active role in maintaining the body, and one way is to produce a hormone called erythropoietin, or EPO. This hormone signals your body to create more red blood cells. But of course, when the kidneys become compromised, they are less able to make the hormone. And virtually inevitably, those with kidney disease will develop anemia as a result.

How severe the anemia will be, and how early it becomes noticeable, depends on several other factors:

  • whether the person is female;
  • whether the person is of African descent;
  • whether they have diabetes;
  • which of the five stages of kidney disease they are currently in.

As soon as someone shows slight signs of kidney problems, it’s a good idea to have blood tests as well, to find out if there’s already an issue with anemia. In fact, regular blood tests are a good idea anyway, because sometimes anemia is someone’s first sign that they even have kidney disease in the first place. But whether the kidney problems were diagnosed first, or the anemia, this problem can’t just be left untreated. A lower supply of red blood cells makes the heart work harder, and this can lead to heart disease. And that’s the last thing someone needs when they’re already dealing with kidney disease.

Treatment for anemia needs to happen in conjunction with treatments for the kidney disease. Usually the doctor will prescribe drugs called erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, or ESAs. These injections made under the skin help the body create more red blood cells. And since iron is also needed for making the cells, the patient will need iron pills, and might also want to eat more iron-rich foods.

Nobody should have to fight through the lethargy and weakness of anemia while engaged in a primary fight against kidney disease. And nobody should add heart disease to that battle either, by ignoring the anemia. These three conditions are closely intertwined, so if the anemia can be dealt with, it can only help both the heart and the kidneys as well.

 

Categories Kidney Disease, Kundan Kidney Care Centre

Raising Kidney Patient Hemoglobin Levels Can be Risky

It’s well-known that Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) reduces the ability of the kidneys to help make red blood cells. As a result, people with diseased kidneys can often become anemic. And since red blood cells carry oxygen through the body, this may then lead to oxygen starvation, causing all sorts of symptoms from shortness of breath to cardiovascular problems.

For this reason, doctors have always been encouraged to use stimulating agents to help raise the hemoglobin levels of kidney patients. But the latest guideline offered by Great Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) adds a cautionary note about the levels of hemoglobin doctors should aim for. The reason, they say, is that in this case, there can actually be too much of a good thing.

Anemic kidney patients obviously receive considerable benefit from having their hemoglobin levels brought back up. But according to NICE researchers, there is a specified upper limit above which these levels should not go. If hemoglobin rises above them, rather than experiencing even greater health benefits, these patients could face certain new risks. Such risks might include strokes or blood clots.

The new guidelines released by NICE on February 9, 2011, address many issues about managing anemia in kidney patients. For example, doctors need to take into account how active the patients might be in their daily work. They might also accept slightly higher than recommended levels of hemoglobin if no other factors suggest a risk of cardiovascular problems.

But on the whole, the NICE guidelines recommend that physicians stay pretty much within the suggested upper and lower hemoglobin levels. Doctors need to take  into account the conditions their patients have already developed and risks they know already exist; Keeping these in mind, they must then should monitor their hemoglobin treatments to ensure new health risks are not introduced into the lives of the patients.

(National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, on the new Guidelines, February 9, 2011)

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