What increases my risk for kidney disease?

There are certain risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing kidney disease, including:
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Family history of kidney disease
  • Age 60 or older
  • Hispanic, African-American, Native American or Pacific Islander ancestry
Diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure are the two leading risk factors for kidney disease. If left uncontrolled, these conditions can damage blood vessels in your kidneys and cause protein leakage into the urine.

Your risk for kidney disease can be increased by a number of factors and may vary depending on which specific disease you look at. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, family history of kidney disease, habitual use of some over-the-counter medications, and physical trauma to the kidney increase your risk for kidney disease. Age is a risk factor, because adults are significantly more likely to develop the disease than children.

In children, the risk of hereditary or congenital (developed in the womb) kidney disease is almost double for boys. People of color are more likely to develop kidney failure because they are more prone to diseases that damage the filtering nephrons in the kidneys. You should talk to your doctor to assess your risk for kidney disease.

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Be aware of certain warning signs of kidney disease. 

  1. High blood pressure.
  2. Blood and/or protein in the urine.
  3. A glomerular filtration rate of less than 60 (lab value in doctor's office)
  4. High levels of creatinine and Blood Urea Nitrogen (lab value in doctor's office)
  5. Increase in urination (urination may be painful or difficult)
  6. Puffiness around eyes, swelling of hands and feet.

In addition to diabetes and high blood pressure, other conditions that increase the risk of kidney disease include heart disease, obesity, older age, high cholesterol and a family history of chronic kidney disease. A physical injury can also cause kidney disease.

More than 35% of adults with diabetes have chronic kidney disease. High blood sugar (blood glucose) and high blood pressure increase the risk that chronic kidney disease will eventually lead to kidney failure. If you have diabetes, controlling blood sugar and blood pressure reduces the risk of developing kidney disease or may slow its progression.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.