Friday, March 11, 2011

Promoting kidney health

KIDNEY CARE: Biel offers information about kidney disease and how to prevent it.

LAURIE BIEL, RN, BSN, CNN, of the MGH Center for Renal Education, does not know whether the kidney or the kidney bean was named first – but she does know a great deal about kidney health. On March 3, Biel presented “Healthy Kidneys” as part of a National Health Observances lecture series sponsored by the Maxwell and Eleanor Blum Patient and Family Learning Center. March is National Kidney Month, and World Kidney Day is March 10.

Approximately 20 patients, visitors and MGH staff members attended the event to learn about kidney disease and how to prevent it. Biel began her presentation by describing the kidney’s function of filtering and regulating fluids in the body. “The kidney is important for keeping us balanced from a fluid and chemical perspective,” she said.

She then discussed what she referred to as the “silent disease,” explaining that more than 26 million people have chronic kidney disease, but many are not aware of it. Risk factors for kidney disease, Biel said, include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart or blood vessel disease, family history, age and race. The key to preventing kidney disease is being aware of individual risk factors and working with a health care provider to monitor them, as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise.

In closing, Biel offered information on kidney disease screening and answered questions from attendees.

“I really enjoyed it,” said Susan Roche, of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at MGH. “I didn’t know much about the topic before, and this was a great opportunity to learn.”

The Blum Center’s National Health Observances lecture series is based on a calendar produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The next talk will be held April 15 in observance of Autism Awareness Month.

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