On Thursday, Nov. 10, Tina Livaudais, DaVita’s chief nursing officer, joined the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Gabbay, for a conversation about the relationship between diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD).
“This discussion really is so relevant for [people with diabetes],” Livaudais said. “Because diabetes is the leading indicator for kidney failure. And so, I think it’s important for this audience, in particular, to understand they are at risk for CKD. And there are a lot of actions you can take to [help] prevent that.”
Approximately 90 percent of the estimated 37 million Americans living with kidney disease don’t know they have it. Livaudais says this is because often there are very few symptoms through early—and even advanced—CKD. Livaudais explains that even as function declines, it does a good enough job at filtering your blood of waste and excess fluid building up in your system, so even symptoms that do show up are very subtle and easy to miss.
During the virtual conversation, which took place during American Diabetes Month, Dr. Gabbay and Livaudais offered viewers key advice to help them work with their doctors and care teams to manage their overall health.
“Thinking about someone who has diabetes, probably the most important action to take is to get tested annually by your physician,” Livaudais said. “Because that is going to be your indicator on whether or not you’re progressing toward kidney disease.”
“Yes,” Dr. Gabbay agreed and explained that waiting for symptoms means someone may learn they have CKD only once they’ve reached an advanced stage. “A simple blood and urine test will tell you right away.”
Diabetes community member and two-time kidney transplant recipient Tiffani Martin joined the leaders from ADA and DaVita to share her experience managing diabetes and kidney disease. When she was 27, poor management of her diabetes led to significant complications, including vision loss—and kidney failure.
Living with a transplanted kidney, Martin now advocates for proper health management for people with diabetes:
“So now I am all about [shedding] light on my story to prevent anybody—as much as I can—from enduring what I and my loved ones had to go through with my health journey.”