Press release

Beyond Bananas™: American Kidney Fund Launches Campaign to Help Kidney Patients Reduce Risk and Effects of Hyperkalemia

New campaign educates patients about controlling potassium for better health outcomes

ROCKVILLE, Md. (August 26, 2019) — The American Kidney Fund (AKF) today launched a new health education campaign, Beyond Bananas™, to increase kidney patients' understanding of high potassium, known as hyperkalemia, and empower them to control their potassium through diet and medication. Potassium, a mineral essential to the proper function of muscles and nerves, poses special risks to people living with kidney disease.

Bananas are the food most closely associated with potassium, so AKF's Beyond Bananas campaign capitalizes on that familiarity while at the same time sending the important message that controlling potassium goes beyond diet alone for kidney patients. AstraZeneca is the sole supporter of the Beyond Bananas campaign, which is an integral part of AKF's award-winning public and professional education programs and content.

Because of the close link between diet and high potassium levels, the Beyond Bananas campaign will be featured on AKF's Kidney Kitchen, where visitors can find recipes and nutritional tools, including a food guide and food tracker, to help manage their potassium intake and facilitate conversations with their health care providers.

The Beyond Bananas webpage,, features educational content explaining that high potassium is not just a measurement at a point in time, but rather a chronic condition closely associated with kidney disease that needs to be managed. AKF plans to roll out a series of Beyond Bananas videos and additional tools for both patients and health care professionals in the coming months.

"People living with kidney disease often have to relearn basic facts about health and nutrition because much of the conventional wisdom no longer holds true for them," said LaVarne A. Burton, president and CEO of the American Kidney Fund. "While many Americans don't get enough potassium, kidney patients have to carefully monitor their levels of potassium to ensure they do not have too much of the mineral in their bloodstream. Hyperkalemia is one of the common and serious side effects of kidney disease and kidney failure, and we've developed Beyond Bananas to take on this topic in a highly engaging and effective way."

Hyperkalemia is a chronic, common and potentially life-threatening complication of kidney disease. Because potassium is kept in balance by healthy kidneys, patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD or kidney failure) are at high risk for hyperkalemia as a result of their kidneys' diminished ability to filter excess potassium out of the blood stream. Hyperkalemia can cause muscle cramps, nausea, lethargy, trouble breathing, irregular heartbeats and heart attacks.

"As many as 20% of people diagnosed with kidney disease also have hyperkalemia, but many are unaware of it, highlighting the significant need for greater awareness of this condition," said Tarek Rabah, vice president, Renal, US at AstraZeneca. "We look forward to the role AKF will play in advancing this important initiative to help empower CKD patients to have more informed discussions with their health care providers in order to better understand and ultimately manage their hyperkalemia." 

Beyond Bananas™ is intended for educational purposes only. Each individual's health needs are different, so patients and caregivers should direct their questions to a health care professional.

"It is our hope that Beyond Bananas will be the beginning of new conversations between patients and their health care providers," Burton said.

About the American Kidney Fund

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nation’s leading kidney nonprofit. AKF works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. With programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy, no kidney organization impacts more lives than AKF. One of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, AKF invests 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, earning the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 20 years in a row as well as the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly GuideStar.

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