Keeping Texans’ Kidneys Healthy with UHV

BCBSTX is partnering with the University of Houston Foundation and the University of Houston-Victoria, one of our Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® (HKHF) grant awardees to raise awareness of chronic kidney disease. This blog is penned by Michael Wiblishauser, an assistant professor of health studies in the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development, who manages the program. 

A partnership between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) and the University of Houston Foundation is supporting a yearlong community-based program led by two University of Houston-Victoria (UHV) faculty members. The Victoria Alliance against Chronic Kidney Disease program raises awareness of chronic kidney disease (CKD), helps participants lower their chances of developing kidney problems, and helps those who already have kidney disease better manage it.  

How Does CKD Affect Texans? 
CKD is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the United States, approximately, one out of seven adults suffer from the disease, totaling nearly 30 million . In Victoria County, 11% of adults (aged 20 or older) have diabetes  and 32% of adults in the region are overweight or obese, which is slightly higher than the state average

Texas is projected to have a high number of diabetics, especially among the Hispanic population because they are at greater risk for the disease. About 68% of adults (aged 65 or older) diagnosed with diabetes will die from heart disease . The key to combating these diseases is early but timely educational and prevention opportunities. 

What is the Victoria Alliance Against Chronic Kidney Disease? 
The Victoria Alliance Against Chronic Kidney Disease program began because health care professionals in the area concluded that local residents were at risk for various health issues. The Victoria County Public Health Department completed needs assessments that helped promote the program and helped reach at-risk residents. 

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The Victoria Alliance Against Chronic Kidney Disease utilizes a multifaceted approach to prevent the development or the diagnosis of CKD in its earliest stages and focuses on preventing and reducing high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

Because obesity and lack of physical activity are associated with both diabetes and high blood pressure, the program centers on proper nutrition and increased physical activity. The program uses health care screenings, such as blood pressure and blood glucose screenings, to place participants into groups. Program participants meet bi-weekly, and each meeting includes an educational component, a physical fitness component and a nutritional component.  

The educational component is aimed at increasing the health literacy and knowledge of the participants. The nutritional component, overseen by a nutritionist, provides nutritional tools and demonstrations on how to properly prepare healthy foods. The physical activity component, which is important in the prevention of obesity, provides exercise regimens for the participants and activity trackers to help participants keep track of their physical activity.  

Since the program began, more than 300 screenings have been completed, and 15% of those screened were referred to physicians for a follow-up appointment. There are consistently 35-40 participants who show up at the bi-weekly meetings. There is still time to get involved with the program if you live in or near the Victoria area. You can learn more about the program and learn how to get involved by watching this interview 

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