A New VA Partnership Looks to Fight Kidney Disease Among Veterans

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Man undergoing kidney dialysis

A new partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Kidney Fund (AKF) looks to help veterans diagnosed with kidney disease -- a number that increases by nearly 6% each year, according to the AKF.

Veterans experience a higher rate of kidney disease than other Americans, according to AKF. While kidney disease impacts one in seven Americans, it affects about one in six veterans, they said, and more than 40,000 veterans enrolled in VA healthcare have kidney failure, forcing them to rely on dialysis or hope for a kidney transplant to survive.

The partnership will give veterans access to webinars, awareness campaigns and events to increase their consciousness of risk factors, causes, complications and treatments of kidney disease and associated conditions, officials said in a release. Through that they hope to raise general awareness about the disease and early diagnosis.

Kidney disease increases your chances of having a stroke or heart attack. Major risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure and family history of kidney failure. It often has no symptoms in its early stages and can go undetected until it is very advanced.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), kidney disease affects minorities at a much greater rate than Caucasians. Asian Americans are 1.5 times more likely to suffer kidney failure than Caucasians, Native Americans are 1.4 times more likely and African Americans are 3.7 times more likely to suffer from kidney failure than Caucasians.

Each year, kidney disease kills more people than breast or prostate cancer. In 2013, more than 47,000 Americans died from kidney disease.

"Our goal is to ensure our veterans are aware of the resources needed to understand, manage and help treat kidney disease," said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. "This alliance improves veterans' access to kidney disease resources, programs and support, and provides information on VA benefits to those diagnosed with or who are at risk for developing the disease."

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