Blog post

The disproportionate impact of kidney disease on Hispanic/Latino Americans — and what to do about it

Last month, the American Heart Association shared the results of a study that found that Hispanic/Latino adults who have kidney disease may be at increased risk for sudden cardiac arrest.
hispanic senior holding womans hand

Last month, the American Heart Association (AHA) shared the results of a study that found that Hispanic/Latino adults who have kidney disease may be at increased risk for sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest is when your heart suddenly stops working — with or without warning signs or a previous heart disease diagnosis. According to AHA, 90% of people who experience sudden cardiac arrest (which is different from a heart attack) die. In the study, 51% of the people who had a sudden cardiac arrest had kidney disease and 20% of those cases involved people who were living with kidney failure.

Kyndaron Reinier, Ph.D., the lead author of the study and associate director for epidemiology in the Center for Cardiac Arrest Prevention at the Smidt Heart Institute, Cedars-Sinai Health System, Los Angeles, said in the AHA press release, "We were surprised by the high proportion of Hispanic/Latino people with chronic kidney disease and especially the high number on dialysis." 

Unfortunately, the disproportionate impact of kidney disease on communities of color is a fact that the American Kidney Fund (AKF) knows all too well. When compared to white Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans have a higher chance of having kidney disease, with about 14% of Hispanic/Latino Americans currently living with kidney disease. Hispanic/Latino Americans are twice as likely as white Americans to develop kidney failure but are less likely to receive a kidney transplant. That is why AKF is working to address health disparities and to advance health equity through our Kidney Health for All campaign

As Dr. Reinier said in the press release, "Early detection and management of chronic kidney disease may reduce sudden cardiac arrest risk among Hispanic/Latino individuals." Here are ways to help keep your kidneys working well as long as possible:

  • Get tested. Talk to your doctor about being tested for diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease. Many patients with kidney disease never notice any symptoms until their kidneys are badly damaged. Ask your doctor if you can have blood and urine tests to look for signs of kidney disease.
  • Follow a kidney-friendly food plan. Meet with a dietitian, which is a nutrition expert who can help you plan healthy meals and snacks you will want to eat. You can also explore AKF's Kidney Kitchen®, which has hundreds of kidney-friendly recipes including a Latin American recipe collection
  • Be active for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. This can be anything from walking or riding a bike to swimming or dancing.
  • Keep a healthy weight. Talk with your doctor about a healthy weight for you.
  • Manage diabetes and high blood pressure. Again, diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of kidney failure. If you have either or both conditions, talk to your doctor about how to keep them in control.
  • Quit smoking or using tobacco.
  • Download Your Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Toolkit to learn more.

Find out more about how AKF is working to ensure everyone has the chance to be as healthy as possible, no matter where they live, what language they speak or what the color of their skin is, on our Kidney Health for All website. There is even a place on the site where you can take action to support government policies that will address these health disparities and help improve the lives of everyone living with or at risk for kidney disease. 


Meredith Deeley

Meredith Deeley is the communications specialist for the American Kidney Fund.