Health Ministers: The Prescription For Black Health Disparities?
(BlackDoctor.org) — Dr. Bennie Marshall has seen first-hand the importance the health ministry makes at her faith community in Norfolk, Va. She knows one of her congregants has not been to the doctor and does not know that her blood pressure numbers are very high. She knows that another one of her congregants is trying to live healthier but is finding it hard to cut back on sodium.
These faith members, and others like them, keep Dr. Marshall very involved at Mt. Gilead Missionary Baptist Church. For Dr. Marshall, chair of the Norfolk State University Department of Nursing and Allied Health, her professional work extends beyond the historically black college’s campus and into the sanctuary in her role as health minister.
A 41-year career nurse, Dr. Marshall has witnessed the effects of high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disease on the members of Mt. Gilead Missionary Baptist Church, a primarily African-American congregation. For Dr. Marshall, helping members make the connection between diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease is deeply personal.
“As a registered nurse and the president of the health ministry, I am fully dedicated to meeting the health needs of the members of the congregation and community,” Dr. Marshall said.
That commitment also is extended to her family, as Dr. Marshall’s brother-in-law has lived with kidney disease for nearly 20 years.
“I consider this my mission field, and I firmly believe that families as well as faith organizations can play a significant role in talking about kidney disease and its risk factors,” she said.
Increasingly, kidney health has become a leading priority for faith communities as members seek support to manage diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. These diseases are a growing concern for African-American faith leaders working to provide health information and resources to their members. Some members with health backgrounds, especially nurses, like Dr. Marshall, are taking a lead role to stem the tide of kidney-related diseases with on-site health services.
More than 20 million adults in the United States have chronic kidney disease, with more than 400,000 people currently depending on dialysis to treat kidney failure, according to the U.S. Renal Data System. Kidney failure disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities. Of the more than 80,000 people on the national waiting list for a kidney transplant, 35 percent are African American.
The members of Mt. Gilead Missionary Baptist reflect the disproportionate risk of African Americans for kidney disease. At a recent kidney health talk organized by Dr. Marshall and the National Kidney Disease Education Program (NKDEP), some members shared their family history of diabetes and high blood pressure. In one case, a member spoke about how not managing his high blood pressure for many years led to developing kidney disease and the need for dialysis three times a week for the last 14 years.
Dr. Marshall, who has used NKDEP’s Kidney Sundays Toolkit to guide kidney health discussions over the years, has found opportunities to expand the services offered by the health ministry and integrate their efforts into the congregation’s regular programs.
“I use our Family and Friends Day to provide health education and blood pressure screenings. That, coupled with materials that are excellent… easy to read and understand, have been effective,” Dr. Marshall said.
She encourages other nurses and health champions to take charge of their congregation’s kidney health. “There are so many things we can do, from monthly blood pressure screenings, to using health observances to provide tips in the bulletin, electronically, or PowerPoint presentations during church services,” she said.
This March in recognition of National Kidney Month, Dr. Marshall along with her nursing sorority, Chi Eta Phi, the American Diabetes Association, and the National Coalition of Pastors’ Spouses, is partnering with NKDEP for the inaugural national Kidney Sundays event. On March 25, more than 50 African-American faith organizations in 15 markets nationwide will educate parishioners about the key risk factors associated with kidney disease and the importance of testing.
To learn more about Kidney Sundays and order free materials to help make the connection between diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease, visit http://nkdep.nih.gov/kidneysundays/index.htm. For more information about diabetes and obesity, visit http://niddk.nih.gov.
Your World Kidney Day 2012 Q&A Questions…Answered!
(BlackDoctor.org) — The World Kidney Day 2012 Q&A was a HUGE success…thanks to you!
Did you know that African Americans account for 30% of all people in the United States with kidney failure? While this number is troubling, your dedication to asking the right questions, and spreading the right knowledge to your family and friends, is crucial to turning that 30% to 0%.
Dr. Griffin Rodgers, Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, would like to thank everyone at BDO for taking the time to take part in this engaging conversation about how to keep your kidneys, and your entire body, healthy.
Without further ado, here are Dr. Rodgers’ responses to all of your World Kidney Day Q&A questions:
Alex Ferguson: How often do I need to be tested for kidney disease?
If you have diabetes, you should get checked every year. If you have other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or a family history of kidney failure, talk to your provider about how often you should be tested.
Angela Lester: Does alcohol affect kidney function?
Hi Angela, great question. Alcohol does not directly affect kidney function but excessive alcohol is a health risk.
Katye Brown: I’m on potassium pill cause my kidney don’t make its own potassium, I also have high blood pressure too.
Some water pills increase potassium loss in the urine. There are some people with low potassium and high blood pressure due to a hormone imbalance. If you have low potassium and high blood pressure and are not on a water pill, you should discuss with your health provider whether you need special testing.
Lydia L.: How would one know if she has kidney disease?
Most people with kidney disease have no symptoms until their kidney damage is quite advanced. It is important to get screened with blood and urine tests. Kidney disease can get worse over time, and may lead to kidney failure. Ask your provider for two important tests – a blood test and a urine test.
Robert Avery: If my father has high blood pressure and diabetes, can I develop kidney disease?
Diabetes and high blood pressure tend to run in families and they are the key risk factors for kidney disease. Talk to your health provider to see if you’re at risk. Early identification of kidney disease is key!
Keeley Williams Garth: Protein in the urine…..what, why, how?
Albumin (a form of protein) in urine may be a sign of kidney damage. A healthy kidney does not let albumin pass into the urine. A damaged kidney lets albumin pass into the urine.
Stephanie Britton: What foods/liquids should I avoid if my family has history of kidney disease? I’m getting checked today.
It’s great that you’re getting checked today! Here are a few general tips to keep your kidneys healthy – Cut back on salt. Aim for less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day. Also, be sure to choose foods that are healthy for your heart: fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.
RJ Griffin: What labs detect kidney problems?
There are two tests that can diagnose kidney disease: a blood test that checks your GFR, which tells how well your kidneys are filtering, and a urine test that checks for albumin, a protein that can pass into the urine when the kidneys are damaged.
Rhonda Perkins: What effect does vitamins and supplements have on the kidneys?
The effect that vitamins and supplements can have really varies depending what you’re taking.
Stephanie Tillman Lee: What can you do to offset the high blood pressure medications from affecting your liver enzymes?
Most blood pressure medications do not affect your liver. If your liver enzymes are abnormal, talk with your health provider.
Allison Michelle Whitaker: What can I do to lose these extra 40 pounds? I have high blood pressure, arthritis, asthma, and I can’t exercise my legs.
I recommend that you speak with a dietitian to create an eating plan that’s right for your needs. Also, you may want to try a physical activity that works for you, such as swimming.
Stafford Johnson: I want to know if HBP ever,ever goes away and if so,what do we do to keep it at bay? I workout and do all kinds of healthy stuff, but it seems to haunt me still. I am 6’6″, 268 pounds and play pro indoor football. I feel fine, but when I do my checkups every now and then, the doc always tells me to work on changing my diet??
High blood pressure can be treated and controlled with medicine and lifestyle changes. There are a few things that you can do to change your diet. You can improve your eating habits by adjusting portion sizes and still enjoy delicious foods and an occasional treat. Also, sneak in fruits and vegetables. You can add berries to your cereal or crunchy vegetables to your sandwich. Meet with a dietitian to develop a plan.
Nita Roquemore Simon-Bennett: Why is my blood pressure low at night and up and down in the day time?? I lost over 50 lbs trying to get healthy and started having problems with my heart rate. I was put on a beta blocker for the HR and my BP started acting up. I’ve been on 3 different pills and the new pills makes my HR go up to 201 instead of the 156 my doctor wants.
A person’s blood pressure varies during the daily cycle. It’s best that you speak with your health provider about this to get more clarity.
Katye Brown: What can I do to get healthier?
Hi Kayte. You should try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day (swimming, walking, or dancing) and also be careful with your food choices by selecting dishes that are healthy for your heart such as fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.
Phyllis Marie Allen: I have all three going on. Diabetic 32yrs. High blood pressure won’t come down below 170/89. PD dialysis 3 times a day.
Blood pressure should be controllable with diet, fluid restriction, and adjustment of dialysis. You should discuss with a nephrologist and a renal dietitian.
Nadia Bipialaka: I have HTN and just found out I have PVD. I was told I also need to get my renal arteries checked. For a couple months now I have been having urinary frequency. Bladder seems full with a lot of pressure, but when go to urinate there are only approx 30cc. What is this?
Frequent small urination may not be related to arterial disease. You should discuss with your health provider.
Jay Ark: Due to hypertenion, my doctor prescribed lisinaprel (sp). As a result, my kidney function levels have reached 39. Since then, he has changed my script, and now its down to 26. I am 39, female, and about 40 pounds overweight. What would be my ideal kidney level be?
If the kidney function level is referring to eGFR, then you may have kidney disease. EGFR below 60 may mean kidney disease. You can’t raise your GFR, but you can focus on preventing or slowing further damage. Talk to your provider about steps that you should take to manage your kidney health.
Alonda Smoot: My glom filter rate was at 65.5 ml/min. Should I be concerned?
Alonda, it’s great that you’re tracking your kidney function! GFR (glomerular filtration rate) of 60 or higher is not considered CKD. Talk to your health provider about how often you should have your GFR checked, because you could still be at risk.
Rhonda Blackwell: What foods lower blood sugar?
You can use the glycemic index to find foods that will help keep your blood sugar low. The glycemic index is a ranking of foods based on how quickly they raise blood glucose levels. Sticking to foods with a low glycemic index can help keep your blood sugar low. Fat and fiber tend to lower the glycemic index of a food. Low glycemic index foods include 100% whole wheat or pumpernickel bread, sweet potato, lima beans, peas, most fruits, and non-starchy vegetables. Foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, rice, and baked goods, tend to have a high glycemic index.
Arencther Benson-Marshall: What is the affect of your weight on your kidneys?
Being overweight is associated with kidney damage. For many reasons, try to reach a healthy weight through exercise and diet.
Lee Hodge: Is there some way to clense your kidneys from all the toxins ingested throughout the years?
Kidney damage is usually permanent (not reversible). The goal is usually to prevent further damage through medical management and avoiding exposure to substances which can harm kidneys.
Dyanne Aldridge: Is something wrong with your kidneys if you don’t use the bathroom all day. I have all three things fighting against me and I am afraid.
Not necessarily but you should check with your health provider to be sure your kidneys and bladder are healthy.
Shana Sheffield- Powell: What effects do flood pills have on kidneys. Can kidneys become dependent on them.
If you have significant kidney damage it may be difficult for your kidneys to excrete excess salt and water without taking a diuretic (water pill).
Karen L Brown: Being treated for FSGS and trying to keep protein intake under control. Am at stage 2 CKD. Is there a certain guideline for the daily amount of protein?
It’s best to talk to a dietitian who can make sure you’re eating enough protein to stay healthy but not more than that.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].