Did you know chronic kidney disease is the 6th most common cause of death in Singapore?

(PHOTO: Getty Images)
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

It might surprise you to know that in Singapore, five people on average are diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) - that’s Chronic Kidney Disease - every day. And it is only expected to get worse. According to reports, ESRD will rise due to Singaporean’s increased prevalence of diabetes and our ageing population.

To help diagnose this disease more quickly, Zensorium (part of Nitto Denko Asia), has recently launched a new kidney test that is now available for Singapore patients. The new ACT test detects Albumin Creatinine Ratio (ACR), a sign of kidney disease, was developed and produced by a Singapore team for the Japanese company.

Why is this test better?

According to Dr Visit Thraveeprungsriporn, Managing Director of Nitto Denko Asia Technical Centre, the ACT by Zensorium is the “first kidney test without the need for refrigeration in the process, improving ease of testing and ultimately, patient access”.

Not needing to be chilled and stored in cold-chain facilities, the new test will improve access to testing for people living in tropical climates like Singapore, and eventually other countries in the region.

Current basic screening options use test strips which only provide a rough estimate of kidney function, and are not entirely useful in early detection of kidney problems according to Nitto Denko Asia. The new test is said to have a “specificity and sensitivity of over 95% compared to laboratory-grade kidney tests” according to the developers.

“It is a point-of-care test, meaning that it provides immediate information necessary for physicians to assist in a correct clinical decision,” explains Dr Thraveeprungsriporn. “This vastly improves patient care, especially in secondary and primary care settings where the currently available test is less sensitive, making it more difficult to detect kidney issues early.”

Urine is checked by the ACT by Zensorium test for an increased level of albumin (a protein) and creatinine. Increased levels of these two are linked to a higher risk of Chronic Kidney Disease.

ACT Test by Zensorium.
ACT Test by Zensorium.

Why do you need to be tested?

In many cases, people will not know they have Chronic Kidney Disease as they won’t have any symptoms until it is in an advanced stage, says Dr Thraveeprungsriporn. Patients may then end up needing treatment with dialysis or a kidney transplant. “This is why an easy to use early detection test is vital when there are no symptoms.”

Who should be tested?

“People living with diabetes and high blood pressure are at greater risk of developing chronic kidney disease,” says Dr Thraveeprungsriporn. “They should have their urine tested for the albumin to creatinine ratio (ACR) at least once a year, but more frequently, every quarter is recommended.”

What causes Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic Kidney Disease has two leading causes, according to Dr Thraveeprungsriporn: “Diabetes and high blood pressure are responsible for up to two-thirds of cases”.

Most of us are aware of diabetes, which occurs when your blood sugar is too high, which leads to damage to various body organs, including the kidneys.

“High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the pressure of your blood against the walls of your blood vessels increases,” explains Dr Thraveeprungsriporn. “If uncontrolled, or poorly controlled, high blood pressure can be a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes and Chronic Kidney Disease.”

How can you get the ACT test in Singapore?

The new ACT by Zensorium test is currently with Nitto Denko Asia's clinical partner, Singapore General Hospital (SGH). It will be commercially available for those at risk of Chronic Kidney Disease towards the end of 2021.

“We want to make them available in polyclinics and secondary level care settings where tests can be even more widely accessible, promoting more preventive focused healthcare rather than treatment-focused,” says Dr Thraveeprungsriporn.

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