London woman’s plea to monitor blood pressure symptoms after ‘shock’ kidney failure
A London woman has called for increased awareness of the risks of high blood pressure after suffering “shock” kidney failure.
Susan Riley, 71, from Lewisham, sought treatment after developing swollen legs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
After failing to get a GP appointment, Ms Riley was rushed to A&E after struggling to breathe. She was placed in critical care before being moved into the care of kidney specialists, who attempted to treat her with medication.
Following a biopsy at Guy’s Hospital, Ms Riley was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease known as membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis. She said the diagnosis left her “in total shock”.
“I had been handed all of these leaflets and materials to read with the understanding that it would be a year until I really needed this treatment. I think I panicked a lot because you are suddenly faced with the diet restrictions, a new routine and you think it’s going to ruin your life.
“I fell into my kidney journey and maybe if I had the knowledge at hand and understood my kidneys better, I could have had an earlier diagnosis and slowed my progression towards dialysis.”
She had two weeks to prepare for her dialysis treatment after her renal failure, which occurs when kidneys no longer have the ability to remove excess waste and water from blood on their own.
Ms Riley now visits hospital three times a week and receives four hours of treatment to keep her alive.
She believes that, if she had been diagnosed earlier, she might have been able to stay off dialysis for longer.
Ms Riley later discovered that her high blood pressure was a sign of kidney issues - and said she wished that she had been more aware that it was a symptom.
“My mother had high blood pressure and so did other people in our family, and I never imagined that it would have such an impact on my life.”
Sandra Currie, chief executive at Kidney Research UK said: “Susan’s story will sound all too familiar to kidney patients but will be rather shocking to the others.
“High blood pressure is a major risk factor for kidney disease – getting tested as soon as any risk factors occur is so important. If more people understand and monitor their kidney health, we can prevent or slow down progression towards kidney failure and stop patients from ‘crash landing’ in hospital, needing urgent treatment to keep them alive.”
Kidney Research UK estimates that, of the 3.5 million people currently living with kidney disease, around one million are unaware that they even have the condition.
The organisation is encouraging people to find out if they are at risk of kidney disease via the charity’s free online health check.
People with diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, those with a family history of kidney disease or people on particular medications are particularly at risk. The Kidney Research UK health check is designed to assess the risk of individual patients and recommend the next best course of action.