23 Feb 2012
- Written by Dr. Timothy Moore Ph.D
The statistics are startling. African Americans suffer from End Stage Renal Disease disproportionately more than any other race of people.
Dr. Timothy Moore
There is something amiss about the number of African Americans suffering from kidney failure. But the statistics are indicative of a society on the fringes of a medical meltdown. Kidney failure in African Americans generally starts around age 56, the NKF has reported, compared to age 66 for white Americans. Without dialysis, death is inevitable.
Dialysis is the process of removing waste and excess water from the blood. It is used primarily to provide an artificial replacement for the lost of one’s kidney function. It is also an imperfect treatment, because it does not correct the problem. When the body is healthy, the kidneys maintain the body’s internal equilibrium.
Have you experienced kidney failure? Are you currently on dialysis? Do you wonder why more African Americans are undergoing treatment than any other ethnic group and why so many of them are young? Here’s the answer: Diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney failure in the African-American community.
The death rates per 100,000-population from high blood pressure is 15.6 for white males, 51.1 for black males, 14.3 for white females and 37.7 for black females, according to the NKF. America, we have a problem. There is lack of education in the African-American community when it comes to understanding diabetes and high blood pressure. Many of these debilitating diseases are taken for granted.
I visited a dialysis center recently and was shocked that the majority of patients looked like me. The statistics bear this out. At last count, there were over 50 such centers in Memphis, and I’m sure new ones are on the drawing board because of supply and demand. This seems unreal to me, but the numbers are stacking up against African Americans.
If African Americans are going to reverse this trend, dietary changes have to be made. I’ve underscored the importance of eating a daily portion of fruit and vegetables to keep the body healthy and fit. But you would think someone would come up with a plan to provide more education to make people aware of the gravity of the problem and stave off the inevitable.
Not likely to happen. Too much profit involved. Dialysis centers are popping up in the African-American community and I’m sure they’re very profitable. Don’t blame the doctor. I’m sure they provide an avalanche of information that some people just don’t heed because of fear, ignorance, or maybe they’re just unconcerned.
Don’t treat dialysis as a joke. If you’re on the machine, most likely your blood is cleansed 2 to 3 times per week. And afterward, you’re likely to feel weak, disoriented, irritable, frustrated and totally unhappy. Chances are your kidneys were damaged because of an unhealthy diet.
Dorry L. Segev, M.D. Ph.D., an associate professor of surgery at St. Hopkins University School of Medicine and the leader of a new study, was quoted as saying, “As a medical community, we have been advising young black patients of treatment options for kidney failure based on the notion that they do better on dialysis than their white counterparts.”
The study shows that young African Americans have a substantially higher risk of dying on dialysis. The study also reveals that African-Americans between the ages 18 and 30 are twice as likely to die on dialysis as their white counterparts; and those ages 31 to 40 are 1.5 times as likely not to survive.
If African Americans are to survive, proper nutrition must be introduced at a young age. So don’t be a candidate for renal failure. Take care of your body or face the inevitable.