Black History Month is a time to honor the many scientific, political, and entrepreneurial achievements of African Americans. It's also a time of year to think about your own family history. This year, take time to better understand your family's rich heritage by knowing and documenting your shared health history. The National Kidney Disease Education Program (NKDEP) has materials to help you and your family members understand what may put you at risk for kidney disease and encourage your family to get tested if they have risk factors.
The leading risk factors for kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure – two conditions that are common in the African-American community. African Americans have higher rates of kidney failure than other groups. In fact, a family history of kidney failure is another key risk factor for kidney disease.
NKDEP encourages you to talk to your loved ones about the risk factors for kidney disease and encourage them to take steps to keep their kidneys healthy. The NKDEP Family Reunion Health Guide is a great resource to help you have these important conversations at any family function – not just summertime reunions and barbeques. The Health Guide includes fact sheets on kidney disease and its risk factors. The Health Guide also provides you with different approaches to talking with your family members and encouraging them to get tested.
You don't have to be a health expert to talk with your family about kidney health. The Health Guide will help you have one-on-one conversations or small group discussions, or write letters or emails to family members. It's easy. View the Guide or order your free copy.
Remember, early kidney disease has no symptoms, so the only way to know if you have it is to get tested. The sooner you and your family know your risk factors and get tested for kidney disease, the sooner you can start taking steps to keeping your kidneys healthy. Talk to your family about their kidney health today!
To help record your family's health history, use the Surgeon General's "My Family Health Portrait," a web-based tool. My Family Health Portrait is easy to access and simple to fill out. It assembles your information and makes a "pedigree" family tree that you can download.
Using My Family Health Portrait, you can enter your family health history, print it to share with family or your health care provider, and save it so you can make updates over time.
Help your family or faith community Make the Kidney Connection between diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. Share information during the month of March—National Kidney Month. Talk to them about kidney health and the importance of getting checked. NKDEP's easy-to-use brochures and fact sheets tell you how. Visit http://nkdep.nih.gov/get-involved/kidney-connection.shtml to view or order them.
NKDEP is on Facebook! Join the conversation by clicking LIKE on the page, share your story on how your loved ones are talking about kidney health this month, and learn about new materials and events.
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Page last updated: March 1, 2012