Intro to Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease affects 1 out of 9 American adults. Each year, more than 82,000 people will die from kidney failures as a result of this disease. Your kidneys help filter out toxins out of the blood, regulate blood pressure, and stimulate red blood cell production. In short, healthy kidneys are vital to your overall health and well-being.
VO: One in nine adults in America has chronic kidney disease... And Over 82,000 people with kidney failure die each year. The kidney is an organ that performs several crucial functions in the body.
Dr. Karol Watson (Cardiologist, UCLA Medical Center): The major function of the kidney is to filter out all of the toxins in the body, and it does that via this very elaborate network of vessels.
Dr. Bruce Molitoris, Nephrologist: It filters about 150 liters, of blood a day... Reabsorbs 99% of that and you make about one liter of urine. When it filters the blood it then has to reabsorb all of the molecules that are of value to the body. So it is a tremendously adaptive filter. It also is the main regulator of blood pressure for the whole body. And finally, it provides the major stimulus for red blood cell production. And so all of those things go on in a very intricate, integrated fashion that's highly regulated within the kidney.
VO: But when the kidneys fail, the body's internal balance starts to collapse. And most people don't even know it's happening.
Dr. Bruce Molitoris (Nephrologist): It's basically a painless disease as far as the kidney and that's one of the problems is that it's a silent disease; it's not like a myocardial infarction or a heart attack. This is silent, and so it can progress severely.
Dr. Bruce Molitoris (Nephrologist): What they will present with late in the course is lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, edema of the lower extremities, swelling at the ankles and above. Patients don't begin to experience symptoms until they're down to about 30 or 40 percent of their normal function.
VO: A simple blood test can be used to measure GFR, or Glomerular Filtration Rate, which indicates the level of kidney function.
VO: Diabetes is the primary cause of Chronic Kidney Disease and High blood pressure is the second leading cause....Managing these conditions with diet, exercise and medication can significantly reduce the progression of chronic kidney disease.
VO: End-stage Chronic Kidney Disease is when kidney function drops to about 15 per cent or less of normal. At this point, your failing kidneys need dialysis to keep you alive.
Dr. Karol Watson (Cardiologist, UCLA Medical Center): What happens during dialysis is that all the blood in your body is being filtered by a machine. So usually what your kidneys are able to do, now has to be done by machine.
Dr. Bruce Molitoris (Nephrologist): It takes on average about 4 hours, 3 times a week.
VO: Dialysis helps patients with end stage chronic kidney disease live longer, but it doesn't fix their failing kidneys. Today, a possible long-term solution is kidney transplantation.