South Carolina clearly has an obesity problem – nearly one-third of us are clinically obese. That means we also have hypertension and diabetes problems. These three conditions go hand in glove – and are costing us a lot of money.
According to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, one in three South Carolinians has high blood pressure, and one in seven has diabetes. People with diabetes have medical expenses approximately 2.3 times higher than those who do not have diabetes. Diagnosed diabetes costs an estimated $5.9 billion in South Carolina each year.
Most people know that extremely high blood pressure can lead to a stroke, and uncontrolled diabetes can lead to peripheral vascular issues, poor wound healing and even amputation. A stroke or amputation is a major health crisis that can change a person’s life forever.
But chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes can also have insidious effects on the body’s organs, slowly causing damage people are often unaware of until it’s too late. One example is chronic kidney disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2023 that one out of seven U.S. adults have chronic kidney disease. Yet only 10 percent of people with kidney disease know they have it.
The kidneys filter blood for toxins and excess fluid. If the kidneys are impaired, they do not remove excess toxins and fluid as they should, and it may cause damage to other organs over time.
“The simplest way to determine kidney function is through a blood test called a basic metabolic panel,” says Dr. Klariz Tucker, MD, with Lexington Internists Northeast. “Your primary care physician will likely order this blood test when you have an annual physical. The blood test measures creatinine, a chemical in the blood filtered by the kidneys. If it is higher than normal, it may indicate that the kidneys are not filtering as well as they should.”
“Once your primary care physician detects a persistent decline in kidney function, it is crucial to prevent further disease progression,” Dr. Tucker added. “If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, adhere to medications to control your blood pressure and sugar.”
Chronic kidney disease is a spectrum, so people can change the course of its impacts. Having routine follow-up care with a physician is a must, and medications are available to prevent further kidney damage.
Individuals can also make many lifestyle modifications to help prevent further kidney damage. Those with chronic kidney disease are encouraged to exercise 150 minutes a week, achieve a healthy weight (BMI 20 to 25), and stop smoking.
The bottom line is if you have hypertension or diabetes, get checked for kidney disease. A healthier South Carolina will be a more prosperous South Carolina – and confronting our state’s slow, silent killer is a big part of that effort.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Lexington Medical Center is a hospital system serving Columbia, Lexington, and the rest of the South Carolina Midlands area. For the second year in a row, U.S. News & World Report has named Lexington Medical Center as the best hospital in the Columbia Metro area.
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