Both diabetes and high blood pressure run in families. You may be at risk for these diseases if a close relative (parent, grandparent or sibling) has been diagnosed with one or both of these. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of kidney disease.

Kidney disease also runs in families. You may be more likely to get kidney disease if you have a close relative with kidney disease.

Genes and lifestyle choices affect your health:

You get your genes from your parents. Your genes give you your personal traits, such as being tall or short or having brown or blue eyes. Your genes can also make you more at risk for (or help protect you from) diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease. However, having a family member with diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease does not mean that you will definitely have one of these diseases.

Your lifestyle and habits are how you choose to live each day. We can’t change our genes, but we can choose to live a healthy lifestyle, and sometimes this can help work against genes that increase your risk for disease. You can lower your risk for kidney disease by making healthy choices.

  • Control your blood pressure
  • Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes
  • Follow a low-salt, low-fat diet
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco
  • Limit alcohol
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Exercise most days of the week

The only way to know how well your kidneys are working is to get tested.

Kidney disease often has no signs or symptoms until your kidneys are very badly damaged. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or a family member with kidney disease, ask your doctor about getting tested. If you don’t know if you have diabetes or high blood pressure, ask your doctor if you should be tested for these. Finding and treating diabetes and high blood pressure early may help prevent kidney disease.

Learn more about the tests for kidney disease.

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Help protect your family against kidney disease:

Share what you’ve learned to protect your family against kidney disease.

Let your family members know that your family’s history of kidney disease puts them at risk, and encourage them to ask their doctors about getting tested. Start a conversation today!

Here are some great tips on how to start conversations about kidney disease with your family.

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