UPMC to Celebrate World Kidney Day on March 13

By: Martin Kinnunen

Kidney disease kills more people each year than breast and prostate cancer combined. But while the majority of Americans can recite the common tests for breast and prostate cancer, many do not know the steps they can take to prevent kidney disease.

“That’s the driving reason behind why UPMC and the Department of Nephrology are teaming up with the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) to provide free kidney disease screenings and education on World Kidney Day,” says Beth Piraino, M.D., of the UPMC Kidney Clinic, Renal-Electrolyte Division and current national president of the NKF.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 13, UPMC employees and visitors are invited to stop in the UPMC Presbyterian Cafeteria to complete the foundation’s KEEP Healthy kidney disease risk assessment and education survey, which determines current kidney health status and risk for kidney disease. Participants will then be directed to a nearby conference room for body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure readings, as well as a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Piraino and other UPMC nephrologists. This is a free assessment and consultation. No blood work is necessary. However, you must be at least 18 years of age.

To encourage participation, all individuals who complete the KEEP Healthy process will be entered into a raffle to win a $10 Starbucks gift card. Ten gift cards will be awarded, and raffle tickets will be distributed to each participant when they finish the kidney check. Also on March 13, volunteers will distribute information about kidney disease at several locations on the UPMC Presbyterian campus.

Kidney disease often develops slowly with few symptoms, and many people don’t realize they have it until the disease is advanced. Awareness of kidney disease, especially for those at risk, is the first step to preventing or slowing the progression of kidney disease. 

“Early assessments, education, and events such as our World Kidney Day celebration at UPMC are so important,” says Dr. Piraino. “Simple steps, such as controlling blood pressure and blood sugar, keeping weight down, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and avoiding excessive use of pain medicine, can help reduce risk of kidney disease.”