Following a renal diet is challenging enough, but quarantines and social distancing make it even harder for millions of Americans living with a form of kidney disease. In the era of COVID-19, it is more important than ever for those living with CKD or ESRD to eat a well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs — after all, they face a much higher risk of experiencing severe symptoms due to their chronic health condition.
5 facts about kidney disease
- Prevalence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects 1 in 7 adults. Kidney diseases are the ninth leading cause of death in the US. Despite this, 9 of 10 adults who have CKD don’t know they have it.
- Costs. Treating kidney disease is expensive, particularly in later stages of the disease. Medicare spending for patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or kidney failure (excluding prescription drugs) totaled $36 billion (or nearly $80,000 per person) in 2017. This represents 7% of Medicare paid claim costs.
- Policy. Given its prevalence, impact on quality of life, and costs, kidney disease is a focus of new policy efforts. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) goals include reducing the number of Americans who develop End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) by 25% by 2030. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued guidance indicating that Americans with ESRD may be able to enroll in Medicare Advantage beginning in 2021.
- Risk Factors. Having other conditions increases the risk of developing kidney disease. Risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- A family history of CKD
- Being 60 years old or older
- Being a minority
Nutrition can not only lower the risk of a person progressing to a higher stage of CKD or ESRD, but can also help protect against many of these risk factors – such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity – where diet plays a significant role.
5. The Role of Nutrition. Following a healthy diet is critical for people with CKD, who may also be managing one or more other chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Monitoring (and often limiting) the amount of sodium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, and fluid intake is necessary, and critical to slow down the progression of kidney disease.
“Nutrition is a vital yet notoriously complex component of ESRD care,” according to Professor Ken Wilund, at the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who is the principal investigator on the study. “By providing fully prepared renal-friendly meals directly to patients’ homes, we are hoping that this convenience can help patients who struggle with the complexity of a renal diet to adhere to eating guidelines. This may help prevent fluid build-up in the body, reduce blood pressure, and prevent other complications associated with dialysis treatment, while also improving quality of life for the people we treat. Providing meals may prove to be a great supportive tool for ESRD patients and motivate them to change their dietary habits long-term.”
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