Risk Factors

Certain risks to kidney health, such as age and ethnicity, are beyond your control. Others are entirely preventable, and avoiding them is your best defense against kidney disease.

Existing health conditions

Chronic kidney disease is most often caused by an existing medical condition that places strain on the kidneys. 

  • Diabetes — the leading cause of chronic kidney disease. 
  • High blood pressure — the second leading cause of chronic kidney disease.
  • Heart disease — strongly linked with chronic kidney disease as both a cause and a symptom.
  • Obesity — increases the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, the two leading causes of kidney disease. 

 

Ethnic background

With a higher prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure, certain ethnic groups face a greater risk of chronic kidney disease. 

  • African Americans represent one third of kidney failure patients in the U.S.
  • Native Americans — nearly two times as likely than whites to be diagnosed with kidney failure. 
  • Asian Americans — almost 1 in 5 have high blood pressure, a leading cause of kidney disease.
  • Hispanics — more than 1 in 9 has diabetes (1 in 4 among those over 45), the leading cause of kidney disease.

 

Family history 

If someone in your family has had chronic kidney disease, you’re at a greater risk of developing it too. The same is true if you have a family history of high blood pressure or diabetes. 

 

Age

If you’re over the age of 65, you face a greater risk of chronic kidney disease. For many, losing a certain amount of kidney function is part of the aging process. 

 

Lifestyle

Certain habits and lifestyle choices can also put you at risk of developing chronic kidney disease. 

  • Smoking — reduces blood flow to your kidneys and worsens the impact of diabetes and high blood pressure, the leading causes of kidney disease. 
  • High-sodium diet — leads to high blood pressure and protein in the urine, both risk factors for kidney disease. 
  • Lack of exercise — can cause obesity, which is linked with chronic kidney disease.
  • Drugs and alcohol abuse — strains the kidneys as well as the heart and liver.

What the numbers say

  • 1 in 3 adult Americans are currently at risk of developing kidney disease
  • More than 1 in 10 adult Americans have kidney disease
  • 90,000 Americans die from kidney disease every year
  • 101,000 Americans are currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving kidney transplant
  • 430,000 Americans are currently on dialysis

Stay on top of your kidney health

 Get prevention tips

 Read how kidney disease works

 Learn how to get diagnosed

 Find kidney-friendly recipes