Kidney Disease: The ‘Celebrity Killer’ that must be checked!

This year has not been a good one for the creative industry, as it has been bogged with several deaths.

Quite unprecedented, over 20 personalities from the creative industry have faced their demise, with the lot being actors/comedians – and we still have a month or so to close the year.

Yes, some ‘Men of God’ predicted the deaths of many celebrities this year and strangely, the industry is experiencing such unfortunate happenings. You can choose to believe such pronouncements from these acclaimed Prophets or repudiate them, but regardless of what is said or not – the critical thing that can’t be disputed is the fact that, something(s) caused the deaths of these celebrities.

Kofi Middleton Mends
Kofi Middleton Mends

Revelation of Cause of Deaths

Years ago, when celebrities in Ghana pass away, the cause (s) of their unfortunate demise is always shrouded in some form of secrecy and it was almost a sin to ask the family of the deceased, the cause of death.

That phenomenon has not changed totally, but, the revelation of the cause of death for these celebrities has improved.

For the many deaths recorded this year, quite a number have disclosed the cause of the death while some others still remain undisclosed- unfortunately.

Elsewhere, when a celebrity passes on, getting the cause of death is easy. Even for those who are killed via road accidents, the real cause of deaths is disclosed.

Kidney-related diseases is the number cause of death for most celebrities across the world and in Ghana this year, thus far, Kidney-related disease is the cause of most deaths.


Kidney Disease is a killer

Legends of the movie, comedy and television industry – Nii Odoi-Mensah, Kofi Middleton-Mends, Ebenezer Donkor (Katawere) and Yaw Donkor (Nkomode) all died through complications of the kidney.

The families of these fallen celebrities were not mortified to share with the industry, the cherished fans of these icons and the entire nation the actual cause of death and that gesture is a good thing.

For the many others whose cause of death are undisclosed, there are indications that many of them died through kidney-related complications.

Causes of Kidney Disease

The work schedule of practitioners within the showbiz industry permits them to lead a certain lifestyle, which to some extent, is detrimental to their health. It is therefore imperative we know the myriad causes of the ailment – especially when it argued to be the topmost killer disease among celebrities.

International health portal, www.healthsite.com provides some of the causes of the life-threatening disease;

Diabetes – is the number one cause of kidney disease. In fact, 44 percent of people who have to undergo dialysis treatment have kidney disease caused by diabetes. High sugar levels due to diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) tend to damage primary filtering units of kidneys called nephrons.

Hypertension – Hypertension or high blood pressure is the 2nd leading cause of kidney disease and kidney failure. In high blood pressure, the force with which blood flows through the blood vessels is relatively high. Under the force, the blood vessels expand or stretch more in order to allow easy flow of blood, . Prolonged high BP can therefore weaken the blood vessels due to over-stretching and scarring. If the blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged, they may interfere with the main function of kidneys– removal of wastes and extra fluid from the body.

Heart disease – Your heart and kidney function are closely related. With every heart beat, blood gets pumped through the kidneys for filtration. So, poor heart function or heart disease can cause scarring and even permanent kidney damage.

Smoking – It contributes to kidney disease in many ways. It increase BP, reduces blood flow to the kidneys and narrows down blood vessels in the kidneys. Moreover, people who already have a slightly reduced kidney function tend to accelerate kidney damage by smoking cigarettes. The risk is even greater in people with diabetes who smoke.

Alcohol intakeLike smoking, alcohol also causes high BP. Moderate alcohol intake can be tolerable but uncontrolled drinking can lead to end-stage renal failure. Alcohol prevents the kidneys from striking a proper balance between body fluids and minerals. It damages the kidney cells by altering their structure and function.

Drug abuse/drug overdoseInappropriate use of drugs or prescription and over-the-counter medicines can lead to neprotoxicity. All medicines you take have to go through the filtration process of the kidneys. Overdose of drugs can cause may result in accumulation of drug metabolites in the kidney which can cause potential harm.

Old ageYour kidneys are not going to stay functionally effective throughout your life. The filtration capacity of your kidney will naturally start declining after you cross your 30s-40s. With every decade after your 30s, your kidney function is going to reduce by 10%. That’s the reason why end-stage renal disease (ESRD) is more common in older adults in their 70s.


Early Detection Is Key

Kidney disease usually progresses silently, often destroying most of the kidney function before causing any symptoms. There are two key tests which are used to detect kidney damage and to assess how well your kidneys are functioning at removing toxins and waste products from your blood – according to Kidney Foundation of Canada.

A blood test is used to measure your serum creatinine level which helps to indicate how well the kidneys are filtering the blood. Creatinine is a waste product made from muscle use and the breakdown of the protein you eat. As the blood creatinine rises, kidney function decreases. Decreased kidney function means that your kidneys are not able to remove the toxins and waste products from your blood as well as someone with normal kidney function.

Simple laboratory tests such as urinalysis (a urine dipstick), which looks for blood and a protein called albumin in the urine, are also useful in detecting kidney damage at an early stage and determining your risk of losing more kidney function. The filters of the kidney do not normally allow protein in the urine so if protein (albumin) is detected; it is a sign that the filters of the kidney are being damaged. The more albumin that you have in your urine, the greater the risk of losing kidney function over time. Other blood tests, X-rays, kidney ultrasound or a kidney biopsy may also be needed to diagnose the specific type of kidney disease and to determine the appropriate treatment.

Odoi Mensah
Odoi Mensah

Time to check the Lifestyle

Predominantly, our lifestyle as entertainers is the main cause of us getting kidney-related diseases. The excessive drinking, smoking and the eating of unwholesome diet plus our refusal to exercise and do frequent medical checks – have been our major problem.

Also, the deliberate move by family members of deceased celebrities not to disclose the causative agent of these deaths is inappropriate. Once the cause of death is known, especially if it’s medically-related, it is right to disclose it for other players within the industry to take the cue and work on themselves.

Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo, www.entertainmentgh.com

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