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Free kidney disease screenings offered

Published: Monday, Feb. 27 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — The National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho is offering free kidney disease screenings through the Kidney Early Evaluation Program.

People are eligible and encouraged to attend a KEEP screening if they have diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, or a sibling or parent with any of those conditions.

At a screening, participants fill out a questionnaire, then have their blood pressure, height, weight and waist circumference measured. Participants give blood and urine samples for testing for signs of diabetes and kidney disease, and an on-site physician reviews the test results with participants.

The results are then sent to the participants' clinicians, or the participants can be referred to a clinician or public health facility. KEEP also provides additional information, education, support and an invitation to attend a screening every year.

Education and KEEP director Sharon Miller said the screening process usually takes from 45 minutes to an hour. The screening is beneficial not just to those being screened, she said, but to the attending physicians as well, who are not all nephrologists (kidney specialists).

"A lot of primary care doctors were missing kidney disease, treating diabetes and high blood pressure for years before they ever mentioned kidney failure or the possibility of that, and so this helps to (raise awareness for) both the public and doctors who help at the screening," Miller said.

The screening tests would normally cost about $200, but are made free through funding from KEEP, pharmaceutical companies and the NKF. The data gathered at the screenings, but not the personal information, will being used for a study on kidney disease.

Attending KEEP screenings has been "extremely valuable" to Salt Lake City resident Andrew Eatchel. He first attended a KEEP screening in 2008 and found out that he had high blood pressure and borderline normal kidney function. He returned for testing in 2009 and learned that his kidney function had decreased, resulting in diagnoses of stage 3 kidney disease and diabetes.

"I had kidney disease and I didn't even know it. I had no clue," Eatchel said. He was unemployed and hadn't been able to see a doctor on a regular basis. "Without this type of screening program there's no way that I would have gone through and gotten this information."

According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease and many are unaware they even have it. Early detection can be crucial to preventing the progression of kidney disease to kidney failure.

The upcoming KEEP screenings are being held at the following times and locations:

Wednesday, Feb. 29, Springville, at the Springville Library (45 S Main Street) from 3-7 p.m.

Thursday, March 8, West Valley City, at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center (1355 W 3100 South) from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Tuesday, April 3, Kaysville, at Kaysville Parks & Recreation (85 N 100 East) from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Appointments are highly recommended and directions for preparing for the screening are given when an appointment is made.

To make an appointment or to learn more, call 800-869-5277 or visit www.kidney.org/news/keep.

Email: rbrutsch@desnews.com

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