850 million!

850 million people in the world have kidney disease. Yet, few are aware of its dangers.

8,500 steps a day, 8.5 miles of walking, 85 miles of cycling, 8.5 minutes of high-intensity training are all ways to burn ~850 calories. These are some of the efforts that scientists, doctors, patients, relatives and carers will undertake as part of the #850challenge to raise awareness of the 850 million people whose kidney function is irreversibly impaired. In addition to the #850challenge, #sockittokidneydisease is another initiative to raise awareness about the importance of our kidneys (if the socks around the ankles leave ankle dent marks, it could indicate water retention – a sign that the heart and kidneys are not doing well).

The figure of 850,000,000 results from a joint survey by the leading kidney societies – ASN (American Society of Nephrology), ISN (International Society of Nephrology) and ERA (European Renal Association). This survey also identified that 10.4 percent of men and 11.8 percent of women have chronic kidney disease (CKD).

On average, kidney disease affects one in nine people with most of them not even being aware that they are ill. This is because patients suffer silently at first because CKD is largely asymptomatic at the beginning. This lack of early detection can be fatal as kidney dysfunction that lasts longer than three months most often is irreparable. Thankfully, though, early recognition and appropriate treatment can slow down or even stop the progression of CKD.

Although CKD and acute kidney injury (AKI) are twice as common as diabetes (with 422 million cases worldwide) and 20 times more prevalent than cancer(with 42 million cases worldwide), the kidneys receive little public or media attention.

Whilst the World Health Organization ranks kidney disease among the leading causes of death, many of those affected do not even have the opportunity to benefit from life-saving dialysis or organ donation due to a lack of resources or financial barriers. Indeed, the treatment of kidney disease places a heavy financial burden on health care systems. For example, the annual cost of dialysis is around 74,000 EUR in Belgium, 63,000 EUR in France and 52,000 EUR in Germany. Good preventive measures and early detection therefore pay off twice – once for the person affected and once for the health system.

In addition to maintaining a healthy diet and undertaking sufficient exercise, Prof. Dr. Christoph Wanner, ERA President and nephrologist at the University Hospital of Würzburg (Germany), advises undergoing regular health checks as a means to assure good kidney health.

Prof. Wanner also urges everyone to help raise awareness of the 850,000,000 people who suffer from kidney disease.

Prof. Agnes Fogo, ISN President said, “As both the President of the ISN and a huge sports fan, I urge everybody to take up the #850 challenge and help raise awareness of the 850 million people living with kidney disease. I will be walking 8.5 miles AND shooting 850 hoops and look forward to hearing how you met the #850 challenge.”

Dr. Susan Quaggin, ASN President, completed the #850challenge in 2021 by running 850 miles and invites everyone to join her in 2022, “Let’s #sockitotkidneydisease and help raise awareness for the 850 million people living with kidney diseases worldwide. Who’s up for a challenge?”

Read the ASN-ERA-ISN Joint Survey here.