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Top Ten Risk Factors for Chronic Kidney Disease

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Kidney failure, requiring dialysis or transplant, can often be prevented with early detection and treatment of chronic kidney disease. Unfortunately, early detection does not happen often enough. So a research team from Case Western University and the University of Michigan analyzed data from 11,955 American adults to identify risk factors that should alert both doctors and patients to the need for kidney function tests. Here are the top ten from their study:

1. Age. The highest risk factor is living to be more than 60 years old.

2. Macroalbuminuria. A simple test can detect abnormal amounts of albumin in the urine.
3. Race/ethnicity. Non-Hispanic whites have the highest risk, followed by non-Hispanic blacks. Mexican Americans have the lowest risk in this study.
4. C-Reactive Protein. This is an important biomarker of inflammation. A test result of 12.8 mg/dl was identified as the highest risk, while a result of 0.21 was the lowest risk. For testing information, see http://vrp.com/articles.aspx?ProdID=art2262&zTYPE=2
5. High blood pressure. This can be either a cause or a result of poor kidney function. Part of the kidney's job is to regulate blood volume, which is an important factor in blood pressure.
6. Diabetes. The risk of kidney disease increases with the length of time one has had diabetes.
7. Low income. As with many other health issues, low income inividuals are at higher risk because of poor access to health care.
8. Hospitalized in the past year. Whatever the cause for hospitalization, this was found to be a significant risk factor.
9. Periodontal status. Any stage of gum disease was found to be a risk factor, with patients who have lost all their teeth (edentulous) at high risk. The inflammatory response to periodontal (gum) disease is thought to be the reason for this association. See https://www.empowher.com/news/herarticle/2009/08/24/gum-disease-risk-kidney-failure-0
10. Low HDL cholesterol. The “good” HDL cholesterol was found to be more significant than total cholesterol, although high total cholesterol was also a risk factor.

According to this study, a non-Hispanic white over the age of 60 with high blood pressure, high C-reactive protein, and high albumin in the urine has a 72% probability of chronic kidney disease. Someone with all the risk factors has a 98% probability.

Chronic kidney disease can be managed with diet and medication. Be sure to get your annual check-ups, and talk to your doctor about your risks.

by Linda Fugate, Ph.D.

1. Fisher MA, Taylor GW. “A prediction model for chronic kidney disease includes periodontal disease”, J Periodontol 2009 Jan;80(1):16-23.
2. Graves, JW. “Diagnosis and Management of Chronic Kidney Disease”, Mao Clin Proc. September 2008;83(9):1064-1069.

Add a Comment8 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Chronic Kidney Disease Treatment involves making changes to your lifestyle and, in some cases, taking medication to control your blood pressure and lower your blood cholesterol levels. This should help prevent any further damage to your kidneys and circulation.

March 8, 2011 - 2:21am

Thanks, Pat and krazig! And here's another article about drugs that cause kidney damage. The liver and kidneys both have to do a lot of work to deal with whatever we take. I hear a lot about liver damage, but I don't think we have enough awareness of kidney damage:


December 19, 2009 - 7:53am

Great information. I was a bit surprised with my troubles because I have never had hight blood pressure nor diabetes. I took antinflamatory's for short periods of time, once after surgery and I got really dehydrated and went to ER. They said my kidney's were "shutting down" but got them going with IV. Then this last year I had 2 doctors prescribe pills for arthritis and both times I had bad stomach aches and also my GFR? tests were affected. So now I won't take anything even closely related to those types of medications. I just hope that I can keep my problem from getting worse. Thank you for posting.

December 18, 2009 - 7:42pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi krazig - You bring up many important points, especially your reference to NSAIDs and their impact on kidneys. Here's an article Linda wrote about this topic that has a lot of good information. Thanks for writing! Pat


December 18, 2009 - 5:56pm

It amazes me that more people are not aware that a simple blood test can tell if you have any signs of kidney disease. Especially when so many folks take NSAID meds. I found that I cannot take anything in that family of drug. Each time I tried I not only got severe stomach aches but my doctors found that it had a bad effect on my kidneys, so not I am going to see a specialist. This is something that you cannot feel so I don't understand why more doctors don't test for kidney problems.

December 17, 2009 - 6:23pm

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a special case of chronic kidney disease. PKD is genetic, but can be managed with treatments similar to those used for other types of chronic kidney disease. In addition, new treatments for PKD are in clinical trials. See https://www.empowher.com/news/herarticle/2009/09/21/polycystic-kidney-disease-review-cleveland-clinic

September 22, 2009 - 1:56pm

Let's get those checkups and prevent kidney failure. Selling human kidneys for transplants is a disturbing ethical issue. See https://www.empowher.com/news/herarticle/2009/09/14/transplant-kidneys-sale

September 14, 2009 - 1:50pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hey Linda, this is an excellent top ten list. Kidney disease is something that is more prevalent than you think that doesn't get as much exposure because of other diseases and ailments. You can cross-post this to our site http://www.toptentopten.com/ and link back to your site. We are trying to create a directory for top ten lists where people can find your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

September 2, 2009 - 2:48pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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