According to the Malaysian Dialysis and Transplant Registry 2018, 69 per cent of new patients on dialysis suffer from Type 2 diabetes. This is a worrying trend as more Malaysians are being diagnosed with this chronic disease.
In Malaysia, according to the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS), conducted by the Ministry of Health (MOH), the prevalence of diabetes in adults has increased from 13.4 per cent in 2015 to 18.3 per cent in 2019.
High blood sugar (blood glucose) can damage blood vessels in the kidneys. When damaged, the kidneys will not work as well.
Many patients with diabetes will also develop high blood pressure which can also damage the kidneys. However, with care, the progression to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in diabetes patients can be delayed.
As the kidney is one of the most affected organs in diabetics, it is advisable for them to go for regular scheduled blood and urine tests to monitor the kidney function.
With regular monitoring of kidneys in patients with diabetes, the progression to CKD can be managed or delayed.
A percentage of those with CKD will eventually progress to kidney failure or End Stage Kidney Disease (ESKD), and require either a kidney transplant or dialysis.
However, we would like to to encourage these patients not to give up hope, as options in dialysis treatments and management of kidney failure have improved greatly over the years.
We are seeing kidney failure patients these days having a much better quality of life compared to years before. Dialysis patients can enjoy more independence and flexibility with home dialysis or peritoneal dialysis, which allows the patient to take charge of their lives and plan their dialysis treatment routine.
What is important now is creating awareness among Malaysians, so that necessary lifestyle changes can be adopted, as early interventions can promote better outcomes.
We urge all Malaysians to go for regular check-ups with their GP to be up to date on their health status.
Dr Abdul Halim Abdul Gafor is the president of the Malaysian Society of Nephrology.
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