More than 700,000 Israelis suffer from chronic kidney disease and the number is growing, the Israel Kidney and Hypertension Society of the Israel Medical Association said on Wednesday. Contributing factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, high blood fats and other disorders, the Society said. Kidney Disease Awareness Day was marked here for the first time on Wednesday. Chronic kidney disease has become a disease of wealthier societies, where obesity and lack of physical activity abound. Therefore, diabetics, hypertensives and people with high blood cholesterol and triglycerides should undergo blood and urine tests on a regular basis for early detection of kidney problems. People with a family history of kidney disease, including young adults, should be checked regularly too. Kidney disease can lead to stroke and heart disease as well. Kidney failure requires dialysis, and the number of patients who need to have their blood cleaned of wastes several times a week has reached 5,000, compared to only 2,900 in 1998. In contrast to the reduction in deaths due to heart disease in recent years, kidney disease is increasing in morbidity and mortality each year. The country spends around NIS 900 million - about 5 percent of the Health Ministry's annual budget - on dialysis. Maintaining a good insulin-sugar balance, lowering blood pressure and treating high blood pressure can save lives. There are several new drugs that protect the kidneys and can halt the decline in their function.