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President Trump wants to improve Americans' kidney health — here's how to protect yours

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Dialysis patient
John Matheny has one of his three weekly sessions at the Morgantown Dialysis Center where he receives his kidney dialysis treatments, near Granville, W. Va., in December 2001.
Dale Sparks | AP Photo 2011

This month, President Trump signed an executive order that lays out a plan to reduce kidney disease in the United States. It includes initiatives to improve awareness and early detection, ease transplants, and boost research into artificial kidneys. It also tries to shift treatment away from dialysis centers, toward in-home care and alternative treatments.

“It’s estimated that about 15 percent of the population — that’s 47 million people — in the U.S. have some kind of chronic kidney disease,” Dr. Jon Hallberg told MPR News host Steven John. “It accounts for about 20 percent of Medicare spending, so this is a really big deal.”

Hallberg, medical director of the University of Minnesota Physicians Mill City Clinic, said the main causes of kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure. 

“But things like smoking, advanced age, being obese, sometimes medications that are used too much, for too long can damage the kidneys, as well,” Hallberg said.

So, quitting smoking, controlling blood sugar and blood pressure, and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent kidney disease.

To hear more of the conversation, including when to get screened for kidney disease, click play on the audio player above.