PKD patients, top of my list

Guest Post By Anne-Marie Desai
Renal Dietitian

This being my first blog, I thought I would tell you a bit about myself and why I signed up to provide to help PKD Australia. My first experience with PKD occurred when I was working in Boston, USA where I was fortunate enough to be working with a wonderful physician whose main research interest was PKD. Through this experience I met many inspirational patients living with PKD and realised that there was a whole subgroup of patients amongst the many people that I was seeing on dialysis.

Returning to Australia, and after a few years of working in paediatrics whilst my children were young, I have again returned to the renal world and now work with patients at all stages of the renal journey. Once again, I have found this subgroup of people with PKD who just get on with things despite the health issues they face. I know you shouldn’t pick favourites, but patients with PKD tend to be at the top of my list of people I enjoy working with.

So you may be wondering what a renal dietician actually does? Most people are aware that dieticians can help people lose weight however, many don’t realise that we provide specialist advice on a whole range of topics.

In kidney disease, we see people at all stages of their renal journal. So, we see people with chronic kidney failure (CKF), end stage kidney disease (ESKD) and post- transplant and each can require specialist nutritional advice. For example, a patient with CKF may see a renal dietitian for a diet to assist with delaying the progression of kidney disease; a patient with ESKD on dialysis may see a renal dietician for phosphate or potassium control; and a patient who’s had a kidney transplant may require weight management advice. Most large public hospitals will have renal dietitians working alongside renal physicians so, if you feel you need to see a dietitian please ask your physician for a referral.

In terms of staying healthy and well, most renal physicians will monitor and track your blood pressure at every visit. And, as you’re probably already aware, controlling your blood pressure is one of the main aims of treatment for PKD and may potentially delay the progression of the disease. Along with medication, eating a diet low in sodium may also play a role in blood pressure control.

However, people often get confused with what this means. In terms of eating, it means not adding salt when cooking or to food you eat, and cooking fresh food whenever possible. The more products you buy from the supermarket, the more likely you are to eat more sodium.

So let me finish with one tip for a low salt future … no matter what you call it, salt is still salt. Don’t be tricked by the terms “vegetable salt, rock salt, celery salt or celtic sea salt”, they’re all just salt and need to be monitored.

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