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Your Family Health History and Kidney Disease

Jessica and Janet are sisters.  Their mother has type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

Knowing your family health history provides important information about your risk for disease.

Because of their family history, Jessica and Janet are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes and kidney disease.

If you know you are at risk you can take steps to protect your health. To be at risk means it is more likely you will develop the disease.

Jessica and Janet made changes in their lifestyle to prevent diabetes and kidney disease.

How does family history put me and my family at risk?

Both diabetes and high blood pressure run in families.  You may be at risk for these diseases if a close relative (parent, grandparent or sibling) has been diagnosed with one or both of these.  Diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease.
Kidney disease also runs in families.  You may be at increased risk if you have a close relative with kidney disease.
Your health is influenced by your genes and your lifestyle choices.  Genes are inherited from your parents.  They may put you at risk (or help protect you from) diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease.  Your lifestyle and habits are things you pick up from your family and your environment.  Although we can’t change our genes, we can choose to live a healthy lifestyle.
Work toward a healthy future for you and your family by tackling unhealthy habits, like drinking too much soda, spending too much time in front of the TV, skipping regular doctor visits and smoking!

Choose a healthy lifestyle for yourself and your family.

Adopt healthy habits by making small changes to your daily routine. Challenge yourself to:

  • Get to a healthy weight and maintain it—losing as little as 10 pounds can improve your health.
  • Walk for 30 minutes every day.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Limit your portions and avoid going back for second helpings.
  • Limit fat in your diet.
  • Cut out salt when cooking and at the table.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Avoid tobacco.
  • See your doctor for regular checkups.

Click here to get more tips for healthy living.

Get Tested

Kidney disease often has no signs or symptoms. The only way to know how well your kidneys are working is to have simple blood and urine tests. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or a family member with kidney disease, ask your doctor about getting tested. If you don’t have diabetes or high blood pressure, ask your doctor if you should be tested for these.  Finding and treating diabetes and high blood pressure early may help prevent kidney disease.

Click here to learn more about the tests for kidney disease.

Spread the Word

Share what you’ve learned.  Let your family members know that your family’s history of kidney disease puts them at risk, and encourage them to ask their doctors about getting tested.  Kidney disease conversations can take place at family dinners or reunions.  Start talking today.

Where Can I Learn More?

Kidney Health Tracker
This pocket-sized tracker can help you keep tabs on your lab results.

Family Reunion Health Program
This guide can help you talk to your family about diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease.

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
This site offers heart-healthy recipes and tips for eating well.

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