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Kidney Disease Risks Among Native Americans

Native Americans are more at risk for kidney failure than some other races.  Native Americans are twice as likely to get kidney failure as whites.

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

Why are Native Americans more at risk? 

Although we are not exactly sure why Native 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 Native Americans: 

  • Native Americans get diabetes more often. 
    • Native Americans are more than twice as likely than whites to have diabetes.
    • About 1 in 8 (13.2%) Native Americans age 18 or older has diabetes.
  • Diabetes affects Native Americans differently.
    • Native Americans are twice as likely to die from their diabetes as whites.

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 Native Americans:

  • Native Americans get high blood pressure more often.
    • Almost 1 in 3 (almost 30%) of Native American adults has high blood pressure.

3.  Almost 1 in 3 Native Americans is uninsured.  If diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease are caught early, they can usually be managed.  However, almost 1 in 3 Native Americans is not insured.  As a result, 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 tell you your GFR, the best 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.  Click here to 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?

Our Screenings & Education program provides education, health screenings, and follow-up to high-risk minority communities in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, and other cities nationwide. To attend a free health screening in your area, click here.

More Information

American Diabetes Association 

American Heart Association

Indian Health Service
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

National Kidney Disease Education Program 

Updated 2/11/08 

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