The Kidneys, EPO and Anemia

What exactly is EPO, and what does it have to do with kidneys?  EPO is short for Erythropoietin.  EPO is a hormone that is produced by the kidneys.  It helps the bone marrow to make new red blood cells.  When someone has kidney disease, such as CKD, then EPO production is most likely decreased.  5% of stage 3 CKD patients have decreased EPO production, and Anemia.  Where as 100% of stage 5 CKD patients have decreased EPO, and Anemia.  So, you can see as the kidney function worsens the risk of Anemia goes up.  When you have Anemia you are not getting enough Oxygen to all the cells of your body.  You can see why Anemia is such an important thing to treat.

Symptoms of Anemia:  weakness and fatigue, headaches, chest pain, difficulty breathing, pallor or paleness, inability to concentrate, and dizziness.  It is imperative if you have CKD, and you experience any of these symptoms you let your doctor know immediately.

If you have Anemia caused by kidney disease, there is a synthetic form of EPO that can be injected subcutaneously into the skin.  You may learn to do it yourself, but more likely a nurse, or Dialysis Tech may give it.  Synthetic EPO, like all medications has risks.  Be sure to discuss all the risks, and benefits with your doctor to make an educated, and informed decision.

There are other causes of Anemia, in CKD, as well.  I will discuss those in a later post.  Do you have CKD, what stage, and are you Anemic?  I am stage 3 and have not been Anemic since first diagnosed.  I monitor my symptoms and increase oral Iron if I start to feel symptomatic.  I discuss with my Nephro doctor any issues, or concerns I may have.  Use the contact form below to message me if you have health goals you would like to meet.