‘Your kidneys count. This World Kidney Day go get blood sugar and kidney function tests – it could save your life.’
That’s the blunt message coming from Apunipima’s Renal Nurse and Kidney Health Australia Ambassador Rochelle Pitt.
‘Chronic kidney disease is a real and present danger on Cape York given the high numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders suffering from type 2 diabetes. Complications associated with type 2 diabetes include including kidney failure, blindness, heart attack, stroke and amputations,’ she said.
‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are three and a half times more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes than their non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander counterparts. Diabetes is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are nine times more likely to experience end stage kidney disease than their non – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander counterparts.’
In order to reduce the rates chronic kidney disease on Cape York, Apunipima has provided kidney function tests to almost half of diabetic patients and almost two thirds of patients with heart disease across Cape York over the last six months.
Those who have issues with their kidneys are now taking steps to reduce their chances of developing chronic kidney disease.
‘We are testing the kidney function of people suffering from diabetes because diabetes can cause chronic kidney disease. We are also testing the kidney function of those with heart conditions because chronic kidney disease can cause cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of death in Australia,’ Rochelle said.
‘Chronic kidney disease is mostly preventable and last year we identified that we needed to improve the monitoring of our chronic disease patients to make sure that indicators of kidney disease could be identified early and managed so we could reduce the prevalence of end stage kidney disease in our people, helping them manage their condition and avoid dialysis.’
Apunipima renal nurse Rochelle Pitt is taking her expertise in kidney health to a new level as the official ambassador for Kidney Health Australia.
When Rochelle isn’t behind a microphone, she is busy seeing clients in Cape York, helping them to look after their kidney health and educating them about the most simple but important organs in their bodies.
In 2014, Rochelle, who is also a singer/songwriter, made it to the top eight in Channel 7’s X Factor and was dubbed the soul mamma of music on the reality television show because of her soul/jazz/blues style of music genre.
“As a renal nurse with Apunipima I’m able to help our people in the Cape and being a face for kidney health at the same time, is very exciting,” Rochelle said.
Despite relatively few early warning signs, Rochelle is always on the lookout to nip any precursors like high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes in the bud, to help steer patients away from the path of Chronic Kidney Disease.
In 2012-13, almost one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 18 years, had indicators of Chronic Kidney Disease. Indigenous Australians were likely to have signs of Chronic Kidney Disease, and four times more likely to have Stage 4-5 Chronic Kidney Disease than non-Indigenous Australians.
“The statistics are alarming with one in every three Australians at an increased risk of kidney disease,” she said. “Due to chronic disease in Cape York being so prevalent, our mob are at greater risk of developing kidney disease and if I can do my bit with Kidney Health Australia then it’s a step in the right direction.”
World Kidney Day falls on March 10
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