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Kidney Disease Risks Among African-Americans

African-Americans are more at risk for kidney failure than any other race.  Nearly 1 in 3 kidney failure patients living in the United States is African-American.  That is nearly 200,000 people!

Why are African-Americans more at risk?
How can I prevent kidney disease?
What is the American Kidney Fund doing to help?
More Information
Download an infographic

 Why are African-Americans more at risk?

Although we are not exactly sure why African-Americans are more at risk, diabetes, high blood pressure and access to health care play a big part.

1.  Diabetes is the #1 cause of kidney failure.  It causes almost half of all cases in the United States.  Diabetes is a serious problem for African-Americans: 

  • African-Americans get diabetes more often. 
    • African-Americans are almost twice as likely as whites to have diabetes.
    • About 1 in 9 (11.4%) African-American adults has diabetes.
    • Over the last 35 years, the number of people with diabetes has doubled.
  • Diabetes affects African-Americans differently.
    • African-Americans with diabetes develop kidney failure more often than whites.
    • Diabetes causes heart disease and other problems in African-American more often than whites.
  • Many African-Americans don't know they have diabetes.
    • About 1 in 3 African-Americans with diabetes does not know he or she has it.

2.  High Blood Pressure is the #2 cause of kidney failure.  It causes about 1 out of 4 cases in the United States.  High blood pressure is a serious problem for African Americans:

  • African-Americans get high blood pressure more often.
    • Almost half (over 42%) of African-American adults have high blood pressure.
  • High blood pressure affects African-Americans differently.
    • African-Americans are six times as likely to get kidney failure from their high blood pressure than whites.

3.  Almost 1 in 5 African-Americans is uninsured.  If diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease are caught early, they can usually be managed.  However, almost 1 in 5 African-Americans is not insured.  As a result, their health care choices may be limited.

 How can I prevent kidney disease?

1.  Get tested.  Talk to your doctor about being tested for diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease.  Many patients with kidney disease never have any symptoms until it is too late.  Ask your doctor to perform a blood and urine test to test for kidney disease.
2.  Eat right.  Eat foods low in fat and cholesterol.  Eat foods that are high in fiber.  Limit how much alcohol you drink.
3.  Live healthy.  Exercise, keep a healthy weight, don’t smoke or use tobacco, and treat bladder and kidney infections fast.
4.  Manage diabetes and high blood pressure.
  Diabetes and high blood pressure cause about 3 out of 4 cases of kidney failure.  If you have either, talk to your doctor about how to keep them in control.  Order or download our brochures, "Diabetes and Your Kidneys" and "High Blood Pressure and Your Kidneys".

 What is the American Kidney Fund doing to help? 

We provide education, health screenings, and follow-up to high-risk minority communities in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago and other cities nationwide. 

 More Information

American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
National Kidney Disease Education Program

 Kidney Disease Infographic

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