Understanding the United States Dialysis Crisis
In the United States, there are approximately 40 million patients with kidney disease; 450, 000 of these patients are on dialysis. However, dialysis treatments can be lengthy, expensive, and not fully covered by insurance – leading to many complications for kidney patients. In addition, dialysis is not a good long-term solution for kidney disease, leading to the development of several other diseases and conditions. Why do kidney failure patients need dialysis, and how can we prevent the prevalence of kidney complications in the United States?
What is dialysis?
Our kidneys are an organ that our body uses to filter waste from foods, medications, and toxic substances that may enter our system. They make urine to remove wastes from our blood and extra water from our body to help us stay healthy. Kidneys are also important in maintaining your overall fluid balance and regulating the minerals that circulate throughout your body. They also produce helpful hormones that control red blood cells, bone health and blood pressure regulation.
When your kidneys shut down due to kidney complications, you cannot maintain these key bodily functions. More than 8 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease, according to the nonprofit Wait List Zero. Of these patients, approximately 450,000 are undergoing dialysis, the only treatment that can keep them alive. Dialysis is a treatment that replaces some kidney functions by:
- Regulating blood pressure
- Removing waste, salt, and excess water to prevent buildup in your body
- Regulating levels of certain chemicals in your blood, such as bicarbonate, potassium, and sodium
The current cost of dialysis
Dialysis is a lengthy and intensive procedure, with many patients attending three sessions a week at four hours each. It only performs about 10 percent of a kidney’s function, making it a short-term life-saving solution that is not suitable for long-term treatment. Only 33 percent of dialysis patients live past five years. One in four patients passes away within 12 months.