Kidney disease a silent killer

Black people are four times more likely to develop kidney disease, a top kidney expert has said. Nephrologist Onismas Madzudzo — one of only five in the country — told a World Kidney Day commemoration gathering at Mutare Provincial Hospital yesterday that kidney sufferers were presenting themselves late for treatment.

Madzudzo said blacks are far more likely than whites to suffer from kidney disease because more than 30 percent of blacks carry at least one copy of the risky gene sequences, and people with two copies of them had 10 times the usual risk of kidney disease.
The gene involved is called APOL1.

“If you are black, African like me, you are at an increased risk of getting kidney diseases,” Madzudzo said.He said most people do not present with symptoms until it is on stage five of the disease due to its silent nature. “Some people here only have one functional kidney and they would only know after diagnosis…“Kidney disease is silent and people in stages one to four may not notice because it is in stage five that the kidneys would be unable to sustain life that it becomes evident.

You have to put effort to find it,” Madzudzo said.
He said the local kidney disease burden could also be compounded by the high HIV prevalence rate as both the virus and the drugs that are used to treat the disease can both injure the kidneys. 

“HIV can injure the kidneys and the drugs too can also injure the kidneys… if you are HIV positive you need to talk to your doctor about the effects the drugs have on your kidneys as these drugs are good in treating HIV but burden the kidneys,” Madzudzo said.
Diabetes and hypertension are however, the major causes of kidney failure the world over, the kidney specialist said.

He also expressed concern over the casual use of painkillers which he said were another major culprit in causing kidney disease.
“I was surprised when I was quickly served when I went into a pharmacy and I asked for a painkiller which ordinarily should have required that I bring a prescription,” Madzudzo said, warning of the dangers of prolonged use of painkillers.

“Avoid prolonged use of painkillers,” he said. While managing kidney disease is expensive in Zimbabwe, Madzudzo said, people could avert the expense and burden by taking better care of the vital internal organs through drinking lots of water and eating healthy as well as exercising regularly.

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