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Initiative Transforms Health Conversations at African American Family Reunions

Take time to discuss health at family reunions

The Family Reunion Health Guide helps families talk about the connection between diabetes,
high blood pressure, and kidney disease

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The National Kidney Disease Education Program (NKDEP) offers the Family Reunion Health Guide to help African American families talk at family reunions and other summer events about the connection between kidney disease, and more common conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. Designed to be used by families, the Guide encourages relatives to talk about risk factors and health, by providing conversation starters, talking points, and key materials to help facilitate these discussions.

Family reunions offer a unique opportunity for family members to share their personal health history, transforming conversations into steps toward protecting kidney health. Sharing family health history can help family members realize that they are at risk for kidney disease and encourage them to get tested. “If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, I encourage you to take action and learn more about the link between these conditions and kidney disease,” said Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). “Please share this information with loved ones, and if they have diabetes or high blood pressure, encourage them to get their kidneys checked too.”

African American families need to take action to protect their kidneys because:

  • Nearly one in six African-American adults has signs of kidney disease, according to the U.S. Renal Data System.
  • There are usually no symptoms with early kidney disease; for this reason, it is called a “silent disease.”
  • African American adults experience extremely high rates of kidney failure–rates approximately 3.4 times greater than whites.
  • The two primary causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure–conditions that are common among African Americans.

In addition to conversation starters, the NKDEP Family Reunion Health Guide includes sample emails and text messages to send after the reunion to keep family members engaged. It also offers access to resources that can be tailored to each family’s specific needs.

Free copies of the NKDEP Family Reunion Health Guide are available here: http://nkdep.nih.gov/get-involved/talk-with-family.shtml.

NKDEP is a program of the National Institutes of Health. For more information, visit www.nkdep.nih.gov.

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