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End Stage Renal Disease -- General Overview

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
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End Stage Renal Disease -- General Overview

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Each year in the United States, more than 50,000 people are diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), a serious condition in which the kidneys fail to rid the body of wastes. ESRD is the final stage of a slow deterioration of the kidneys, a process known as nephropathy.

What causes end stage renal disease?

Diabetes is the most common cause of ESRD, resulting in about one-third of new ESRD cases. Even when drugs and diet are able to control diabetes, the disease can lead to nephropathy and ESRD. Most people with diabetes do not develop nephropathy that is severe enough to cause ESRD. About 15 million people in the United States have diabetes, and about 50,000 people have ESRD as a result of diabetes. Other causes include:

  • Interstitial Nephritis - 2.9 percent
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease - 2.9 percent
  • Glomerulonephritis - 11.4 percent
  • Other Causes - 18.1 percent
  • High Blood Pressure - 28.8 percent
  • Diabetes - 35.9 percent

Is there a cure or treatment for ESRD?

ESRD patients undergo either dialysis, which substitutes for some of the filtering functions of the kidneys, or transplantation to receive a healthy donor kidney. Most U.S. citizens who develop ESRD are eligible for federally funded care.

Who is most at risk for ESRD?

African Americans and Native Americans develop diabetes, nephropathy, and ESRD at rates higher than average. Scientists have not been able to explain this. Nor can they fully explain the interplay of factors leading to diabetic nephropathy--factors including heredity, diet, and other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure. They have found that high blood pressure and high levels of blood sugar increase the risk that a person with diabetes will progress to ESRD.

Also, people with diabetes who have high blood pressure, or hypertension, have increased odds of developing kidney disease. Both a family history of hypertension and the presence of hypertension appear to increase chances of developing kidney disease. Hypertension also accelerates the progress of kidney disease where it already exists.


Adapted from the Department of Health and Human Services, 3/00

Last reviewed March 2000 by ]]>EBSCO Publishing Editorial Staff]]>

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.