AstraZeneca launches a fashion line that focuses on kidney health

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Cameras flash, fashionistas gasp and designers scratch their heads as they think of the genius in their midst. CKD, a new clothing line dropped this year.

But when one sweeps bat wings and mini-skirts, mentally composes a #OOTD, or “clothing of the day”, it becomes clear that not everything is as it seems.

“Looking glamorous isn’t the only reason to get in shape,” says one large clothing label. “Healthy kidneys never go out of style,” said another.

We’re not kidding about the kidneys. Because CKD is not a fashion line, but an acronym for chronic kidney disease. The visionary behind this “collection” is pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which focuses on the UAE’s fashion-conscious population as a way to raise awareness.

The CKD fashion 'collection' aims to target the UAE fashion conscious population as a way to raise awareness about Chronic Kidney Disease.  Photo: AstraZeneca

“We turned CKD mute disease into a brand like we see it from fashion houses, to get people to stop and pay attention,” said Suzan Shuman, GCC business unit director for cardiovascular, kidney and metabolism units at AstraZeneca.

Under the campaign, the pharmaceutical company teamed up with medical communications specialist McCann Health Dubai to envision a signature move that would be associated with “generally fashion-conscious people in the Emirates”.

A team of local designers was then tasked with creating the collection from scratch, before displaying it to the crowd during Expo 2020 Dubai.

“Every design is marked with an important message,” says Shuman. “Visitors are informed about the disease and encouraged to schedule screenings as early as possible if they fall into a risk category.”

One of the main challenges of CKD is patient awareness, with most diagnoses occurring at an advanced stage, leading the team to take this unconventional approach.

“We had to share stories in a way that had an impact across the city, so we focused our launch with a unique activation at the Expo 2020 Sweden pavilion on World Kidney Day,” said Mena McCann Health general manager Karen Kamel.

“We have seen an encouraging increase in CKD screening and testing, which is ultimately a key factor in the success of our campaign.”

Lifestyle factors that affect kidney health

Kidney health isn’t something most of us think about too often, but according to Professor Marie Richards, director of kidney services at Mubadala Health, it’s a bigger problem than we might think.

“Kidney disease is common worldwide and in the UAE, and affects about one in 10 adults,” he said. “The global burden is increasing, and CKD is projected to be the fifth most common cause of lost years of life globally by 2040.”

Kidney disease is called a silent disease because many symptoms are not visible until the kidney damage is advanced

Dr Mustafa Ahmed, senior consultant nephrologist at Imperial College London Diabetes Center in Abu Dhabi

According to Dr Foroozan Khezri, a urologist at Medcare Hospital Al Safa in Dubai, your daily habits can harm you, including from eating too much protein to not getting enough sleep.

“Many factors can affect the health of your kidneys, including low water intake, high salt intake, high protein intake and even overuse of painkillers,” he says.

“Dietary factors such as eating processed foods, high sugar intake and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can also have a negative impact on kidney health.

“Other factors such as diabetes, smoking, lack of exercise, and lack of sleep can greatly affect how effectively your kidneys function.”

Signs and symptoms

It is estimated that patients can lose up to 90 percent of kidney function before developing symptoms of kidney failure, which makes early detection very difficult.

“Kidney disease is often referred to as the silent disease because many of the symptoms are not visible until the advanced stages, when the kidney damage is severe,” said Dr Mustafa Ahmed, senior consultant nephrologist at Imperial College London Diabetes Center in Abu dhabi.

Later signs and symptoms include fatigue and tiredness, headache, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle cramps, weight loss, itchy skin, urinating more often than usual, metallic taste in the mouth, bad breath, high blood pressure, blood and protein in the urine.”

Tips to improve kidney function

While detection can be problematic, there are many ways to adjust your lifestyle to prevent kidney failure and stay healthy, experts say.

Khezri advises his patients to make small changes to their routine and aim for prevention rather than cure.

Everyday things you can do to improve kidney health include drinking enough water, lowering your salt and sugar intake, monitoring your weight and participating in regular physical activity.

“A few simple changes can make a big difference, but the time for action is now.”

Updated: May 10, 2022, 04:18

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