(BPT) – Edward Beans could be described as a man with great purpose who makes the most out of all life has to offer. He is a husband, father, business owner and a basketball coach. And, as of five years ago, he is a dialysis patient.
Beans found out he had kidney disease while at a routine doctor visit. His primary care doctor ran a full range of blood tests, including one to measure his kidney function, or glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The results showed Bean's kidneys were failing.
"I was fortunate my doctor checked my GFR, or else I might not have had the chance to make a healthy transition to dialysis," Beans says. "I encourage everyone to ask to have their GFR checked as part of their yearly physical."
Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 31 million adults have been diagnosed with the disease, which is often called a "silent killer" because it can be symptomless until immediate medical attention is needed. Once kidney disease progresses to kidney failure, dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary for survival.
When caught early enough, the progression of kidney disease may be slowed, and in some cases, prevented altogether. A simple GFR blood test can assess if someone has or is at risk of having kidney disease.
Beans recognizes that high blood pressure and poor dietary choices contributed to his kidney disease. In fact, diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease in the U.S. One in three people with diabetes and one in five people with high blood pressure also have kidney disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Moreover, minority populations -- particularly Hispanics, African-Americans and Native Americans -- are at a disproportionately higher risk of developing kidney disease. Additional risk factors include people with cardiovascular disease, obesity, high cholesterol, lupus and a family history of the disease.
Beans, like many people with kidney failure, chooses to live life to its fullest while managing the disease. He remains a committed family man, continues working as a property manager, and volunteers as a children's basketball coach in his community -- all while completing dialysis treatments three times a week.
"I'm still coaching, still running a business and still doing everything I want to do. But now I have to factor in time in a dialysis chair," Beans says.
Beans is a good example of how it is possible to live a high quality of life after a kidney disease diagnosis. Staying employed after being diagnosed or while on dialysis has many potential benefits, including lower rates of depression, sustained income and, in many cases, more choices in medical insurance.
"If you choose to be active, you can still take care of yourself and slow it down. I choose to continue to work and coach and spend time with my family because it gives my life purpose."
Take a one-minute quiz to find out if you may be at risk for kidney disease at DaVita.com/LearnYourRisk.
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* In this episode of Healthy Moments, Dr. Griffin Rodgers, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, explains why people with risk factors for kidney disease should get tested for the disease.
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