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Health Care Costs and Your Kidneys • Your Kidneys or Your Life

Healthcare Costs and Kidneys

We spent 3.5 trillion dollars on healthcare in 2017 (17% of total GDP). That averages to $10,224 per person (28% more than Switzerland ($8,009); twice as much as the average for industrialized countries ($5,280)).

In the US In 2016, 5% of the US population accounted for half of all health care dollars spent at approximately $50,000 annually. Those in the top 1% average over $109,750 annually.

A huge chunk of these dollars go to treating end stage renal (kidney) disease (ESRD) where people with the problem must regularly have their blood mechanically filtered via hemodialysis to live. Almost 750,000 patients every year in the US have ESRD, with around 2 million patients worldwide. Consider this number – almost half of people in the world with ESRD live in the US! Patients treated with dialysis represent 1% of the population, but cost 8% of the annual Medicare budget with an average $89,000 per patient.

Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is a stealth killer with no signs or symptoms as the disease develops in early stages. Late stage signs include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue and weakness, problems sleeping, changes in urination volume and frequency, decreased mental clarity, muscle twitching and cramps, swelling of feet and ankles, persistent itching, chest pain, shortness of breath, and high blood pressure that’s difficult to control.

Causes of Kidney Disease

Causes for kidney failure include long-term diabetes and high blood pressure, chronic or recurrent kidney infections, urinary obstruction, and chronic liver and/or kidney inflammation.

Why do we have an astronomically high incidence of kidney disease relative to the rest of the world? Polypharmacy – taking too many different drugs at the same time. According to the CDC, the percentage of people in the US taking more than five prescriptions has nearly tripled in the past 20 years with 9% of people over 55 taking more than 10.

A diet of refined/processed foods with too much cheap food oils (corn, soy, peanut, etc.) and sugars, especially corn syrup is also a huge problem. That we drink everything but water, and especially sodas and other high sugar chemical concoctions, is another reason we have the highest concentration of kidney disease in the world!!

What to Do

Minimize prescription drugs! Work with your pharmacist and prescribing doctors to decrease the drugs you take – you’ll be healthier.

Eat whole and unrefined food (organic, if you can); eat more plants; use fresh, high quality fats and oils – olive, avocado, walnut, flax, almond, coconut oils and butter/ghee); avoid corn syrup and other simple sugars; drink water!


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