New Kidney Foundation Chief to Focus on Raising Awareness

Article excerpt

More than 26 million Americans have some form of kidney disease, and just 10 percent of them know it, according to the American Society of Nephrology.

In her new role as president of the National Kidney Foundation, Dr. Beth Piraino hopes to educate people about the disease and get them to think about prevention.

"We want to make sure there's an awareness of kidney disease like there is for breast cancer and mammographies, cholesterol and other illnesses. Kidney disease is very pervasive. A very high proportion of the country is at risk," Piraino said.

Piraino, 63, of Squirrel Hill is a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and the associate dean of admissions and financial aid at the university's School of Medicine. The foundation, according to its website, works on awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of health care professionals, millions of patients and those at risk.

Foundation members appointed her to a two-year term as president in October. She is in the midst of a six-year term on the foundation's board of directors.

Piraino said many people don't realize how chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity can lead to ongoing and sometimes serious kidney problems.

The foundation, she said, is working on disease-awareness education. It's producing YouTube videos with patients talking about how the disease has affected them.

She said the foundation will partner with primary care physicians to increase awareness. She also wants a stronger push for simple tests measuring kidney function and for proteins that indicate risk or early presence of the disease, and better labeling of food so people can make healthier choices. …