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Kidney disease rarely comes on its own
Up to six million people in Germany suffer from kidney weakness. This is often only recognized much too late because the deteriorating kidney function initially does not cause any symptoms. In the advanced stage, however, the tide turns. Kidney weakness can be responsible for numerous serious concomitant diseases such as heart failure, heart attack or a stroke. Experts warn: The number of possible secondary diseases in kidney patients is higher than in any other medical field.
Experts from the German Society for Internal Medicine (DGIM) explain how important it is that kidney weakness is discovered and treated as early as possible. Because the kidney regulates the salt balance, contributes to blood formation and is closely connected to the protein, energy and bone metabolism. "Disorders of kidney function therefore basically affect the whole body," emphasizes Professor Dr. med. Jürgen Floege, Chairman of the DGIM.
Numerous secondary diseases possible
The therapy of kidney diseases is one of the most complex tasks in medicine. Hardly any other disease can cause such serious and diverse concomitant diseases. According to the DGIM team, renal failure is the strongest risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure, heart attack or stroke. In addition, edema such as water in the legs or in the lungs is a common side effect of kidney weakness. In addition, there are possible disorders of the nervous system and a disturbed bone metabolism, which increases the risk of broken bones. "You can say a bit generalized that in many ways patients with renal insufficiency age faster than healthy kidneys," summarizes Floege.
Kidney diseases have serious consequences
A current analysis of 2.6 million health insurers showed that patients with kidney problems rank first in the overall complexity of the clinical picture. According to the analysis, kidney sufferers had an average of 4.2 additional diseases, had to take 14.2 different medications, had a death risk of 6.6 percent per year and were most likely to need nursing care within a year. "This means that nephrological patients have the highest values for four out of nine complexity parameters and are also the number one when it comes to determining overall complexity," emphasizes Floege in a DGIM press release.
Kidney diseases need to be looked at as a whole
Because of the diverse effects that kidney damage has on other organ systems, the whole patient should always be kept in mind, the expert said. The interactions between the various drugs must always be taken into account, because 90 percent of the ingredients are excreted via the kidney. Due to the considerable complexity, the chairman underlines the importance of working with other medical departments. "Internal medicine should form a unit, the sub-disciplines of which should always be exchanged - and despite the necessary specialization, each individual should always retain the broad view of the holistically trained internist," advises the professor. (vb)