Your kidneys may be small, but they perform many vital functions that help maintain your overall health, including filtering waste and excess fluids from your blood. 

2021 Statistics

Looking at the 2021 statistics (1):

More than 1 in 7, that is 15% of U.S. adults, or 37 million people are estimated to have CKD.
As many as 9 in 10 adults with CKD do not know they have CKD.
About 2 in 5 adults with severe CKD do not know they have CKD."

Chronic Kidney Disease can be a confusing concept as it is caused by other illnesses or medical conditions.
Unlike Acute Kidney Injury, the loss of kidney function may be reversible. CKD is "progressive," which means it worsens over time.

Severe kidney disease may lead to complete kidney failure and the need for dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant to stay alive. 

While effective treatments are available for many kidney diseases, people are sometimes unaware that kidney disease can often be prevented if detected early. 

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the more common causes of CKD in adults. Other risk factors include heart disease, obesity, a family history of CKD, inherited kidney disorders, past damage to the kidneys, and older age. 

Diabetes

The 2021 statistics show that 1 in 3 adults with diabetes may have chronic kidney disease.
Too much glucose, also called sugar, in your blood damages your kidneys' filters. Over time, your kidneys can become so damaged that they no longer do a good job filtering wastes and extra fluid from your blood.

Often, the first sign of kidney disease from diabetes is the protein in your urine. When the filters are damaged, a protein called albumin, which you need to stay healthy, passes out of your blood and into your urine. A healthy kidney doesn't let albumin pass from the blood into the urine.

Diabetic kidney disease is the medical term for kidney disease caused by diabetes. The only way to determine if a person with diabetes has CKD is through simple blood and urine tests.
If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about checking your kidneys' health.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the kidneys, so they do not work as well. If the blood vessels in your kidneys are damaged, your kidneys may not work as well to remove wastes and extra fluid from your body. Excess fluid in the blood vessels may then raise blood pressure, even more, creating a dangerous cycle.

Glomerulonephritis

The third leading cause of end-stage kidney disease in the U.S. is glomerulonephritis, damaging the kidneys' filtering units, called the glomeruli. The cause of this disease is not known, but some cases may be inherited, and others may be triggered by an infection.

Other causes of kidney disease

Some other causes of kidney disease include:
A genetic disorder that causes many cysts to grow in the kidneys, polycystic kidney disease (PKD);
An infection;
A drug that is toxic to the kidneys;
A condition that affects the entire body, such as diabetes or lupus. Lupus nephritis is the medical name for kidney disease caused by lupus;
IgA glomerulonephritis;
Disorders in which the body's immune system attacks its own cells and organs, such as Anti-GBM (Goodpasture's) disease;
Heavy metal poisoning, such as lead poisoning;
Rare genetic conditions, such as Alport syndrome;
IgA vasculitis;
Renal artery stenosis.

Modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors.

According to current estimates (1):
CKD is more common in people aged 65 years or older (38%) than in people aged 45–64 years (12%) or 18–44 years (6%).
CKD is slightly more common in women (14%) than men (12%).
CKD is more common in non-Hispanic Black adults (16%)
than in non-Hispanic White adults (13%) or non-Hispanic Asian adults (13%).
About 14% of Hispanic adults have CKD.

Several risk factors can increase your likelihood of developing CKD. Some are non-modifiable, meaning that you cannot change them, while others are ones you can have influence over.

Among the non-modifiable risk factors associated with CKD:

Genetics: You may be predisposed to CKD insofar as the risk of ESRD is three to nine times greater if you have a family member with ESRD.
Race: African-Americans are nearly four times as likely to develop ESRD as Caucasian Americans. Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Native Americans are at risk because they are twice as likely to develop diabetes than their white counterparts.
Age: CKD is more common in people aged 65 years or older (38%) than in people aged 45 to 64 years (13%) or 18 to 44 years (7%).8 
Low birth weight, which is associated with impaired kidney development, resulting in fewer and smaller nephrons.

Among the modifiable risks factors associated with CKD:

Uncontrolled high blood pressure
Type 1 diabetes with the onset of disease before age 20
Poor blood glucose control in people with type 1 or 2 diabetes
Cigarette smoking, which further constricts renal blood vessels
Obesity, which contributes to hypertension, the risk of diabetes, and the production of adipokines—inflammatory substances that can cause damage to renal tissue


Despite the high prevalence of CKD, disease awareness remains profoundly low. Worldwide, only 6% of the general population and 10% of the high-risk population are aware of their CKD statuses.

A study showed that there are known links between awareness of risk and the presence of disease and how it changed the natural history of the disease(4).

By taking practical action to incorporate awareness strategies that promote education and enable early identification and treatment, we can transform the trajectory of CKD and its complications. With the help of policymakers, advocacy groups, patients, our healthcare professionals peers, and industry leaders, we can help make a difference in the future of CKD care. LET'S SPREAD THE WORD OUT!.

(1) https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/pdf/Chronic-Kidney-Disease-in-the-US-2021-h.pdf
(2) https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/glomerular-diseases 
(3) https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/kidneydiscauses
(4) Sherwood M, McCullough PA. Chronic kidney disease from screening, detection, and awareness to prevention. The Lancet Global Health 2016; 4(5):e288-e289.