Making Your Kidneys a Priority With Type 2 Diabetes

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When it comes to managing your type 2 diabetes, are you considering your kidney health? Up to one in two people with diabetes will experience signs of kidney damage in their lifetime.1 Michael Chapman* understands the impact type 2 diabetes can have on the kidneys and encourages others to make their kidneys a priority before it’s too late.

Michael was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when he was 40 and had been showing signs of kidney damage. The kidneys’ main job is to filter the blood to keep a healthy balance of water, salts and minerals.2 If this balance isn’t maintained, nerves, muscles and other tissues may not work as well as they should.3 High blood sugar levels from diabetes can damage the kidneys’ blood vessels,2 making it harder for the kidneys to maintain this balance.4

Michael knew that uncontrolled diabetes could poorly impact his overall health and lead to complications, but managing his diet and monitoring his blood sugar were an inconvenience in his busy life. “It was never an important thing. Now it’s the only thing. Everything in my life today revolves around diabetes and kidney disease.”

Approximately 10 years after his diabetes diagnosis, Michael was admitted to the hospital with congestive heart failure, where doctors discovered his kidney function had been deteriorating. Kidney disease often goes unnoticed until it’s advanced.1 “It’s a silent, sordid disease. It’s not like you have any pain, but it requires constant checking.”

Four years later, Michael’s kidneys were failing and toxins were building up in his body. He started dialysis to clean his blood, a 10-hour treatment he needs daily until he has a kidney transplant. His experience is an important reminder of the significance of managing type 2 diabetes. “The most important thing I wish I’d done differently was taken my diabetes seriously and listened to my physician. You don’t realize the damage that it’s doing to you.”

Testing can help identify kidney disease earlier, which is critical to reducing the chance of progression to an advanced stage where dialysis or transplant may be required. Diabetes Canada recommends that those with type 2 diabetes be screened annually for kidney disease with a simple blood and urine test.5

If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about protecting your kidneys as part of your diabetes management plan. Here are some questions you may ask at your next appointment:

  • Has my kidney function been tested recently? If so, what were my results?
  • How often should I have my kidney function tested?
  • What is a good kidney test result for me?
  • Am I at risk of developing kidney damage?
  • Could any dietary or lifestyle changes be beneficial for my kidneys?
  • Would altering my medications help to support my kidneys?

Start Early to Protect Your Kidneys

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease in Canada.1
  • There may be no symptoms of kidney disease until it is at an advanced stage.1
  • Kidney disease is progressive and can worsen over time.1
  • People with diabetic kidney disease are at higher risk for heart attack and stroke.2,5

Talk to your doctor about what you can do to protect your kidneys.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.

Sponsored by Janssen Inc.

Sources
1 Diabetes Canada. Kidney Disease. Accessed June 12, 2020. https://www.diabetes.ca/managing-my-diabetes/preventing-complications/kidney-disease
2 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. What is Chronic Kidney Disease? Accessed June 12, 2020. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd/what-is-chronic-kidney-disease
3 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Your Kidneys & How They Work. Accessed June 12, 2020. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/kidneys-how-they-work
4 Alicic RZ, Rooney MT, Tuttle KR. Diabetic Kidney Disease: Challenges, Progress and Possibilities. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2017;12(12):2032–2045.
5 Diabetes Canada. 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada. Can J Diabetes 2018;42(suppl 1): S1–S325.