Am I at risk
for kidney disease?
You are at high risk for kidney disease if you have:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease, or
- A family history of kidney disease
You are also at risk if you are:
- Over 60 years of age
- African American, or
If you have any of these risk factors, you need to get checked for kidney disease.
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease.
In Texas and the U.S., diabetes is the number one cause of kidney disease and kidney failure. Diabetes damages the small blood vessels of the kidneys, making it difficult for the kidneys to filter out waste and extra fluid from the body. When waste and extra fluid build up in the body, it can lead to many urgent problems, including heart failure, inability to fight off infections, fluid buildup in the lungs, anemia, nerve damage, weakened bones that can easily break, and kidney failure. If you have diabetes, work with your doctor to control it and reduce your risk of kidney disease.
High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney disease.
High blood pressure and kidney disease are said to go hand in hand because they often occur together. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the second leading cause of kidney disease in the U.S. and in Texas. High blood pressure damages the small blood vessels in the kidneys, making it hard for them to filter out harmful waste products and extra fluids. As the kidneys lose their ability to clean the blood, toxins build up in the body, causing life-threatening harm to many organs. High blood pressure can also be a result of having kidney disease. As the kidneys struggle to do their job, more pressure is put on the body’s blood vessels, significantly raising blood pressure. By the time they reach kidney failure, almost all patients also have high blood pressure. Work with your doctor to keep your blood pressure at or below the target set by your doctor.
Heart disease and kidney disease.
Heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases greatly increase the risk of kidney damage. Diseases that affect the kidneys can also damage your heart. That’s why many doctors consider the heart and kidneys to be one connected system. Heart disease and kidney disease share many lifestyle risk factors and clinical signs. If you have heart disease, get checked for kidney disease. And if you have kidney disease, make sure you are checked for heart disease. Prevent, manage, and treat together. Love your heart. Love your kidneys.
If it’s in your family, it could be in your kidneys.
If you have one or more family members who have kidney disease, are on dialysis (machine treatment to help kidneys work), or have had a kidney transplant, you are at higher risk for kidney disease. Be aware of your family history and share it with your doctor.
Other risk factors:
- Age. The risk of kidney disease generally increases with age. If you are over 60, get checked for kidney disease.
Race and Ethnicity. Different racial and ethnic groups are more likely to develop kidney disease.
- African Americans are almost four times more likely than Whites to have kidney disease.
- Hispanics are almost twice as likely as Whites to have kidney disease.
Physical Health. If you have any of the following conditions or behaviors, you are also at increased risk.
- Lack of exercise
- Poor diet
- High cholesterol
If you have any of these risk factors, talk to your doctor about getting checked for kidney disease and the steps you should take to protect your kidneys.