20.03.2014 UL Medical School raises awareness of chronic kidney disease

Luke Kieswetter, UL medical student, Rita Mater, haemodialysis nurse, Louise Troddyn, UL medical student, Mary McMahon, haemodialysis nurse, Brid Collins, renal nurse specialist, Peggy Eustace, Irish Kidney Association-Clare branch, Professor Austin Stack, Chair of Medicine, Graduate Entry Medical School, UL

The Graduate Entry Medical School in partnership with University Hospital Limerick (UHL) and the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) recently ran an awareness campaign to highlight Chronic Kidney Disease on World Kidney Day. The team set up a free kidney information centre last Thursday 13th on the UHL campus with support of the hospitals multidisciplinary team of specialist nurses, dietitian, pharmacist and supported by medical students from the Graduate Entry Medical School. Blood pressures were checked in passers-by and advice given on proactive preventive practices. Information on risk factors for kidney disease, its treatments and the importance of screening was provided to members of the public and hospital staff.

"Increasing the awareness of chronic kidney disease and its risk factors in the Irish population are important goals for disease prevention” according to Professor Austin Stack, Professor of Medicine and Consultant Nephrologist, of the Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS) and University Hospital Limerick. Each year more than 400 new patients are started on dialysis in Ireland. This number is set to increase over the next few years due to an aging population and increasing prevalence of hypertension and diabetes. Kidney disease is generally a silent disease and may go unnoticed for many people at risk unless they are screened with a simple blood and urine test.

“Primary prevention of a disease is what we should strive for and by informing the general population about risk factors and what to look for, we are empowering them to play an active role in their health care” said Libby Sweeney, hospital pharmacist and member of the kidney team

"This is a great opportunity for me to play an active part in helping patients and the general public about the importance of kidney disease and its prevention “said John Birrane, first year medical student at the Graduate Entry Medical School.

“Partnerships like these between the University, the hospital and the IKA, are the key to success” according to Susan Cannon, National Board Member for the Limerick Branch of the IKA who supported the programme along with Joan Gavin and Peggy Eustace from the Tipperary and Clare IKA branches respectively.

Increasing the awareness of kidney disease is important for all age groups especially for older people who are at greater risk. This focus of this year’s campaign was on Chronic Kidney Disease and Aging according to Professor Stack who said that over 600 million people worldwide have CKD, a number that is expected to increase by 17% over the next decade. In Ireland, we estimate that 1 in 5 people aged between 60-80 years have kidney disease, and this number rises to 1 in 2 persons over the age of 80 years. Putting it simply, the older you get, the more likely you are to suffer from kidney disease which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke and, in some cases, can progress to kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplantation.

"We also need better screening programmes in the Irish health system", said Prof Stack who is leading the first National Kidney Disease Surveillance Programme, a 3-year research programme funded by the Health Research Board to identify the frequency of kidney disease in Ireland and determine the risk profiles of those who are at greatest risk of progression.

The Kidney awareness campaign was a huge success and highlights the strong partnership that exists between the Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick and other professional organisations in order increase public awareness of common diseases like kidney disease. World Kidney Day aims to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide. Further information about World Kidney Day is available at www.worldkidneyday.org