Chronic Kidney Disease and the Athlete

What is CKD?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) happens when the kidneys are damaged and can't clean the blood effectively. It can also affect the ability of the kidneys to help balance the body's fluids, control blood pressure, keep the bones strong, and make red blood cells.

What causes CKD and what are the symptoms?

High blood pressure and diabetes commonly cause CKD, but it is also common as we age. Many people with CKD experience no symptoms, but others may have tiredness, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, low urine output, or swollen legs.

Should I be tested for CKD?

If you are 60 years or older, have diabetes or high blood pressure, or if you have family members with kidney disease, you may need to be tested for chronic kidney disease. Testing includes checking your blood pressure and ordering certain blood and urine tests to find out how well your kidneys are filtering your blood, and to see if there is protein in your urine.
CKD is often calculated by the glomerular filtration rate and clearance of creatinine from the blood. Normal creatinine clearance starts to decline around age 40, and decreases exponentially with advancing age.

There are five stages of CKD:

Stage 1: kidney damage with GFR ≥ 90 mL per minute per 1.73 m2

Stage 2: kidney damage with GFR of 60 to 89 mL per minute per 1.73 m2

Stage 3: GFR of 30 to 59 mL per minute per 1.73 m2

Stage 4: GFR of 15 to 29 mL per minute per 1.73 m2

Stage 5: GFR < 15 mL per minute per 1.73 m2, or kidney failure treated by dialysis or transplantation

What can I do to protect my kidneys?

Early diagnosis and treatment of CKD and its causes can slow its progression and decrease cardiovascular risk. Consider doing the following:

  • Stop smoking
  • Keep your blood sugar at a healthy range if you have diabetes
  • Lower your blood pressure to healthy levels through diet, exercise, and medicines
  • Lower your cholesterol
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Take medicine to slow down damage to your kidneys
  • Avoid medicines called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs). Examples include ibuprofen (brand names: Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (brand name: Aleve).

Should I keep exercising if I have CKD?

Absolutely! In fact, increasing physical activity will increase physical fitness and muscle strength, prevent muscle wasting, improve cardiovascular health, improve nutritional parameters, and recude chronic inflammation. Exercise should be an essential part of chronic kidney disease management.

Dr. Carfagno and his team combine expert clinical judgement, decades of experience and evidence based diagnostic algorithms to appropriately evaluate and manage your health. Call SSMI at 480-664-4615 today to schedule your evaluation.  #CKDawareness

Glassock RJ, Winearls C. Ageing and the glomerular filtration rate: truths and consequences. Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2009;120:419-28.