From Nigeria To Neurons

I spent the morning trying to figure out how to call Nigeria.  When I started, I had no idea it was a problem.  Then Sprint told me international calls are not on my plan.  So I turned to the office phone, a landline.  Well, Cox apparently doesn’t believe in direct dialing to other countries so an operator helped me place the call. The result: a tinny conversation with my beautiful Remi, a friend of the heart, who will be attending our wedding as a result of this call.       Nigeria

Of course, that got me to thinking about Nigeria directly. Remi is a retired nurse and told me of having a teaching hospital there decades ago. Aha, time to research.

It looks like Nigeria has its own share of kidney problems.  According to a January 28th article in the Daily Trust, The Secretary FCT (Federal Capital Territory in Abuja) Health and Human Services Secretariat – Dr. Demola Onakomaiya – feels that kidney disease is increasing far too rapidly and that the two existing dialysis and intensive care units need to be, and are being, augmented by new hospitals and the expanded services being provided in existing hospitals.  You can locate the short article at http://allafrica.com/stories/201301290412.html.

Since Nigeria is home to a whopping 20% of the blacks in the world, this should not be a surprise.  I’ve written repeatedly about the black population having a higher risk and incidence of Chronic Kidney Disease and that no one quite knows why this is.

Did you know this is still Black History Month? And that other kidney disease writers and groups have urged blacks to be tested for CKD, just as I have?

According to Dr. Ola Akinboboye, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Cornell University, President of the Association of Black Cardiologists, and native Nigerian:

“African Americans are six times more likely than Caucasians to develop hypertension-related kidney failure. I always stress the importance of controlling hypertension to my patients because even mild elevations in blood pressure are associated with significantly high risk of kidney failure particularly in African Americans.” 

Dr. Ola AkinboboyeSix times, ladies and gentlemen!  Six times.  That makes me irrationally fear for every black friend I have.  Luckily (for me and the rest of the world), these are educated people who know they must be tested for CKD. Frankly, that’s the only way to get me to shut up about this.

The American Kidney Fund tells us about the increased risk factors for high blood pressure (hypertension) which is in itself risk causing for Chronic Kidney Disease:

• Are over 45 years of age
• Are overweight
• Are African American
• Have a family member with hypertension
• Are not physically active
• Eat a diet high in salt
• Drink too much alcohol
• Smoke

Notice the third item on the list.  You can find more information from AKF about Chronic Kidney Disease among blacks at: http://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-health/are-you-at-risk/high-blood-pressure-kidney-disease-african-americans.html

According to Jane Brody’s NY Times article in January of this year, only 52% of the 76 million hypertension sufferers in this country have their blood pressure under control. She offers these possible reasons:

¶ About 20 percent of affected adults don’t know they have high blood pressure, perhaps because they never or rarely see a doctor who checks their pressure.

¶ Of the 80 percent who are aware of their condition, some don’t appreciate how serious it can be and fail to get treated, even when their doctors say they should.

¶ Some who have been treated develop bothersome side effects, causing them to abandon therapy or to use it haphazardly.

¶ Many others do little to change lifestyle factors, like obesity, lack of exercise and a high-salt diet, that can make hypertension harder to control.

She also interviews a physician about specific medications for specific hypertension causes.  You can read the entire article at: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/28/keeping-blood-pressure-in-check/?smid=tw-nytimeshealth&seid=auto

I remember well (and sadly), my mom telling me she wasn’t taking her blood pressure medication because she didn’t want to be one of those old people who take pills for everything.  I am one of those old (er) people who takes my hypertension medication… and my cholesterol medication…and my arthritis medication.  I see where not taking her pills led and I’m not going down that path.

I wish she had lived to read about this:

Researchers from Sweden spotted the previously unknown cluster of nerve cells in the brains of mice, finding the cells affected the animals’ blood pressure and other cardiovascular functions. If these neurons also exist in human brains, scientists and doctors may have a new avenue for tackling hypertension (chronically high blood pressure) and other heart problems.

(Do you think this little guy could be a descendant of the white mouse I won at an amusement park as a teenager?  He lasted one day before my mother insisted I turn him loose in a park. She was so logical about the whole episode, which was not really like her when it came to rodents.  I think she actually liked him.)  mouse
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/01/15/new-culprit-for-high-blood-pressure-discovered/#ixzz2LwT4iblr

Let’s not get all excited just yet.  First the neurons have to be identified in humans, if they even exist in us. Makes me think of all those who don’t who don’t comply with their doctor’s orders to take medication or are unaware of their own hypertension with new hope.

I’ve come far afield today: from my wedding, to Nigeria, to blacks’ higher risk of CKD due to hypertension, to non-compliance, to possible neuron induced hbp. That is just how my mind works.  No wonder Bear has trouble following my discussions sometimes!  Poor man.

Saturday is the day I attend the Southwest Nephrology Conference at The Wild Horse Hotel in Chandler, Arizona.  Selling is not permitted since it is on tribal land, but I’ll have plenty of donation books with me.  I hope to see you there.  I am excited about meeting the East Coast people who have so generously spread word of the book.

I’m trying out a new font.  How do you like it?

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

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