HCF calls on Australians to keep kidney health in mind

Sydney, 6 March, 2017 HCF, Australia’s leading not-for-profit health fund, is calling on Australians to better understand kidney disease, a condition which kills more people each year than breast cancer, prostate cancer or even road traffic accidentsi.

Ahead of Kidney Health Week from 5 March to 11 March 2017, HCF is highlighting the issue as data shows 1.7 million Australians (1 in 10) have indicators of chronic kidney disease, yet less than 10 per cent of those are aware they have the conditioni.

Chronic kidney disease is often called a ‘silent disease’ as there are frequently no warning signs, and it can be common for people to lose up to 90 per cent of their kidney function before experiencing any symptomsii. Two of the most common causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressurei; conditions which affect 1.7 millioniii and over 4 millioniv Australians respectively.

Dr Richard Phoon, Senior Staff Specialist in Nephrology at Westmead Hospital and HCF-elected Councillor says that due to one third of Australians being at increased risk of developing kidney disease, he hopes that people take action to protect their kidney health and clearly identify the symptoms.

“The symptoms and causes of kidney disease are often not appreciated in the general community which presents a significant challenge in early detection of the disease, especially as the causes are often linked to common health conditions that affect a large proportion of Australians”.

“If more Australians can understand the symptoms and causes of kidney disease, and how they might be at increased risk, it will mean more cases are detected early and managed appropriately,” Dr Phoon said.

If detected early, the otherwise inevitable deterioration in kidney function and associated increased risk of cardiovascular disease can be reduced by as much as 50 per cent and may even be reversiblei.

HCF Medical Director, Andrew Cottrill, says “Kidney disease is a growing health concern in Australia, which is why HCF has been looking into this area and gathered insights which show we still have some way to go before Australians properly understand what they can do to prevent this disease from developing”.

“National datai tells us that dialysis is the most common single reason for hospital care, and that hospitalisation rates from acute kidney injury have more than doubled over the last decade, and now represent 2% of all hospitalisations. It’s clear that this condition needs increased awareness, which is why HCF is committed to addressing preventable health issues and chronic diseases, so that we can help achieve better health outcomes and quality of life for Australians,” Dr Cottrill said.

HCF provides a free support service to help eligible members manage their chronic conditions through the My Health Guardian chronic conditions program, which includes easy-to-follow health action plans, telephone support from registered nurses, access to health coaches and SMS or email reminders about screenings and GP appointments.

Tips for preventing kidney disease:

According to Kidney Health Australia (KHA), there are some simple ways Australians can determine their risk of developing kidney disease:

  1. Know the risk factors – diabetes, high blood pressure, age over 60 years, smoking, obesity and family history are just some of the risk factors to be aware of.
  2. Look out for symptoms – kidney disease often has no warning symptoms, however there are signs which may indicate reduced kidney function, including changes in the amount or appearance of your urine (e.g. frothy urine), blood in your urine and even general signs like muscle cramps, tiredness, puffiness in your legs, ankles or around your eyes, appetite loss and headaches.
  3. Complete KHA’s quick online test to identify your kidney disease risk – by answering the simple questions of KHA’s online test, you can find out your risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
  4. Speak to your doctor about a kidney health check – if you know the risk factors and symptoms and think you might be at increased risk, chat to your doctor about getting checked. Early detection can significantly reduce kidney damagei.



Issued on behalf of HCF by WE Buchan. Media inquiries to:

About HCF

HCF, leading not-for-profit health fund protecting Australians since 1932, covers over 1.5 million members with health and life insurance, community care, travel and pet insurance. On average over the last five years, HCF has paid out more cents in every dollar in premiums to members as benefits than the industry average. With over 35,000 specialists participating in its Medical Gap Cover Scheme and approximately 10,000 providers participating in its 100% back More for You programs, HCF gives members access to quality health care with no gaps or minimal costs compared to non-participating providers. To empower members to put their health first, HCF also offers a range of health and lifestyle services including its My Health Guardian health management program, mobile Victor Chang Health Checks and My Global Specialist second opinion service. HCF’s national network of retail outlets and Australian-based call centres have earned multi-award winning status. HCF members also have access to low cost, high quality services at HCF Dental Centres and HCF Eyecare Centres. Having contributed $50 million to support the health services research funded by the HCF Research Foundation, HCF is devoted to investing in the future of Australia’s health.

To learn more about HCF go to hcf.com.au/about-us

iKidney Health Australia, Kidney Fast Facts, July 2016. Accessed at: Kidney Health - Fast Fact Sheets

iiKidney Health Australia, Kidney disease: Look out for these symptoms. Accessed at: Kidney Health - Symptoms

iiiDiabetes Australia, Diabetes in Australia, 2015. Accessed at: Diabetes in Australia

ivAustralian Bureau of Statistics, National Health Survey first results: 2014-15, Hypertension and measured high blood pressure, March 2016. Accessed at: Australian Bureau of Statistics - Hypertension and measured high blood pressure