There are certain factors (things) that can increase your chances of getting a disease, but do not necessarily cause the disease. These are called risk factors.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of kidney disease. They are also considered risk factors, because having either condition increases your risk of getting kidney disease.

  • Diabetes
    Diabetes is the #1 cause of kidney disease. Diabetes is a disease that causes your body to have trouble making or using insulin. Insulin is a hormone (a chemical your body makes) that helps your body turn the sugar you eat into energy. When your body doesn’t use insulin the right way, too much sugar stays in your blood, which can lead to chronic kidney disease over time.

  • High Blood Pressure
    High blood pressure is the #2 cause of kidney disease. High blood means your heart is working too hard to pump your blood. When blood flows too forcefully through the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys, this can hurt these tiny vessels. Over time, this can lead to chronic kidney disease.

Other risk factors for kidney disease

  • Having a family member with kidney disease
    If you are related to someone who has kidney disease, you are at greater risk, because there are certain genes that can increase your chances of getting kidney disease. Diabetes and high blood pressure also run in families, and can increase your risk of getting kidney disease.
  • Being over 60 years old
    Over time, the kidneys lose some function naturally. People who are older than 60 are also more likely to have diabetes and high blood pressure, the two leading causes of kidney failure.
  • Having heart disease
    Heart disease is when your heart isn’t working as well as it should. This makes it harder for the kidneys do to their job. If your kidneys are working too hard, they may become damaged.
  • Being obese
    Being obese puts you at greater risk for the two biggest causes of kidney disease: diabetes and high blood pressure.  This means that being obese puts you at greater risk for kidney disease too.
  • Smoking
    Smoking can cause high blood pressure, which is the second biggest cause of kidney disease. Smoking also causes blockages in your body’s blood vessels. When a blood vessel is blocked, your kidneys cannot get the blood flow they need, and this can cause damage, which can lead to chronic kidney disease.
  • Having a history of acute kidney injury (AKI)
    Acute kidney injury is when your kidneys stop working suddenly, over a short period of time. People who have had acute kidney injury before are more at risk for chronic kidney disease than people who have never had acute kidney injury.

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Causes of kidney disease

Causes of kidney disease include:

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