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Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)


An estimated 31 million people in the United States are living with chronic kidney disease (CKD). 


What is CKD?


The term “chronic kidney disease” (CKD) means lasting damage to the kidneys that can get worse over time.  If the damage is very bad, your kidneys may stop working.  This is called kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease (ESRD).  If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to live.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can develop kidney disease, but you are more at risk if you:

  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have heart disease
  • Have a family member with kidney disease
  • Are African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian
  • Are over 60 years old

How can I prevent CKD?


Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of CKD.  The best thing you can do to help protect your kidneys is to work with your doctor to keep these in control.

A healthy lifestyle can also help you prevent CKD. 

  • Eat a diet low in fat and salt
  • Exercise most days of the week
  • Have regular check-ups with your doctor
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Limit alcohol

How do I know if I have CKD?  


CKD usually has no symptoms until it is very far along.  The only way to be sure how your kidneys are working is to get tested.  Being tested for kidney disease is simple.  Ask your doctor about these tests:


eGFR (estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate)

  • This test tells your doctor how well your kidneys clean your blood. 
  • Your doctor tests your blood for a kind of waste called creatinine.  Healthy kidneys filter creatinine out of your blood.  Your doctor will then use your creatinine test result to figure out your eGFR.
  • An eGFR less than 60 for 3 months or more may be a sign of kidney disease.

Urine Test

  • This test tells your doctor if there is blood or protein in your urine.
  • Your doctor may test your urine in the office or ask you to collect your urine at home.
  • Protein or blood in your urine may be a sign of kidney disease.

Blood Pressure

  • This test tells your doctor how hard your heart is working to pump your blood.
  • High blood pressure can cause kidney disease, but kidney disease can also cause you to have high blood pressure.
  • For most people, a normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 (120 over 80).  Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be.

How is CKD treated?


With CKD, the damage to your kidneys is usually permanent.  It cannot be fixed, but you can take steps to help slow down the CKD and keep the damage from getting worse.  

  • Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes
  • Keep a healthy blood pressure
  • Eat a heart healthy diet (low in salt and fat)
  • Exercise most days of the week
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco
  • Limit alcohol
  • Talk to your doctor about medicines that might help protect your kidneys

If you treat kidney disease early, you may be able to slow it down! 


If kidney disease is not treated, it can cause your kidneys to fail, and you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to live.

Download our free Kidney Health Tracker to keep track of your kidney test results.

Download our brochure Living Well with Chronic Kidney Disease


Revised 8/12.



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