According to the National Kidney Foundation, Chronic kidney disease affects about 30 million Americans and millions more are at high risk of developing kidney disease. In recognition of National Kidney Month, Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) encourages everyone with risk factors for kidney disease to speak to your primary care physician and ask for routine blood work to determine if a referral to a kidney specialist is necessary.

The best way to take care of your kidneys is to manage the factors within your control, like high blood pressure, body weight and blood sugar. It is also important not to smoke and to get plenty of physical activity.

Early detection and diagnosing the cause of problems are key in treating kidney disease. All kidney diseases are initially detected the same way.

PMC Nephrologist, Chinmay Patel, MD, explained that early detection can help prevent kidney disease from progressing to kidney failure. Diagnosis can be done by blood test to check for serum creatinine and glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which measures the level of kidney function and determines the stage of the disease.  A urine test looks for protein excretion in the urine.

“The blood test needed to determine GFR is already part of the standard metabolic panel performed in routine bloodwork,” said Dr. Patel.  “A GFR below 60 is abnormal, as is any protein in the urine. Your physician can easily review your levels with you.”

Dr. Patel cautioned that it is just as important to know your GFR number as it is your blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol numbers. In early stages of kidney problems, treatment can be as easy as managing risk factors.

“Many people who have risk factors such as heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, may develop kidney problems,” stated, Dr. Patel. “Asking basic, simple questions of your primary care physician is very important in beginning the conversation about kidney health.”

PMC hopes to make conversations like this easier, with a renewed focus on primary care in the region. The Family Practice Clinic will be onboarding two new physicians in 2019, as well as relocating patient services to the first floor of the newly built Data Center on PMC’s main campus. Primary Care services have also been expanding to Martin and Whitesburg. The PMC Clinic in South Williamson will be adding primary care to its line-up after it relocates next to Food City in June.

Chronic kidney problems can occur at any age. In fact, the age of a person with declining kidney function depends on how long they have been suffering from risk factors.

Dr. Patel reminds us that kidney disease is not an old person’s disease at all. The age at which a patient begins to exhibit symptoms all depends on how long they have been living with diabetes, high blood pressure or other unmanaged risk factors.

“It is very important to be proactive with your health, especially if you have a family history of kidney disease,” Dr. Patel stated. “Understand your GFR level, maintain your risk factors, and minimize over use of over-the-counter pain medications, which can also damage the kidneys.”

A great way to take an active role one’s own health and wellness is through the ePMC Patient Portal. By providing access to portions of medical records, Patient Portal allows you to view recent lab results and communicate with your health care provider. With Patient Portal, comparing your lab results, like GFR, makes it easier to monitor your levels over time. If you do not already have an active account, simply call PMC’s Patient Portal Department at 606-218-6356 to get started.

Dr. Patel is located on the 8th floor of the PMC Clinic Building. To schedule an appointment please call 606-218-2208 or click the button below: