33% of adults in the United States are at risk for kidney disease. That’s 1 in 3 people.
Kidney disease is a major public health concern. Kidney disease often goes undetected until it is very advanced. Unfortunately, this is when someone would need dialysis or a transplant.
The key is to find kidney disease before the trouble starts. Regular testing for everyone is important, but it is especially important for people at risk.
Follow these 6 steps to learn more about kidney disease, your risk, and how to prevent it.
Step 1: Know These Facts
6 Things Healthy Kidneys Do:
Regulate the body’s fluid levels
Filter wastes and toxins from the blood
Release a hormone that regulates blood pressure
Activate vitamin D to maintain healthy bones
Release the hormone that directs production of red blood cells
Keep blood minerals in balance (sodium, phosphorus, potassium)
8 Problems Kidney Disease Can Cause:
Heart attack and stroke
High blood pressure
Put your life at risk
Nerve damage (neuropathy)
Kidney failure (end-stage kidney disease, or ESRD)
Anemia or low red blood cell count.
Step 2: Assess Your Risk
5 Main Risk Factors:
Diabetes (you or your family)
High blood pressure (you or your family)
Heart disease (you or your family
Family history of kidney failure, diabetes, or high blood pressure
Additional Risk Factors:
Age 60 or older
Low birth weight
Prolonged use of NSAIDs, a type of painkillers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen
Lupus, other autoimmune disorders
Chronic urinary tract infections
Knowing if you are at risk for kidney disease is the first step to a healthier life. We’ve made it easier than ever to know where you stand.
Step 3: Recognize Symptoms
8 Possible Trouble Signs:
Most people with early kidney disease have no symptoms, which is why early detection is critical. By the time symptoms appear, kidney disease may be advanced, and symptoms can be misleading. Pay attention to these:
Difficult, painful urination
Pink, dark urine (blood in urine)
Increased need to urinate (especially at night)
Swollen face, hands, abdomen, ankles, feet
Step 4: Get Tested
If you or a loved one belong to a high-risk group, ask your primary-care physician about these tests—and be especially insistent about the last one. Your doctor may want to perform other tests as well.
3 Simple, Life-saving Tests:
Blood Pressure (BP test)
High blood pressure can damage small blood vessels (glomeruli) in the kidneys. It is the second-leading cause of kidney failure after diabetes.
Good Score: Below 140/90 is good for most people. Below 130/80 is better if you have chronic kidney disease. Below 120/80 is considered best. Check with your healthcare team to see what is rightfor you.
Protein in Urine (urine test)
Traces of a type of protein, albumin, in the urine (albuminuria) may be an early sign of kidney disease. Regular amounts of albumin and other proteins in the urine (proteinuria) indicate kidney damage.
Good Score: Less than 30 mg of albumin per gram of urinary creatinine (a normal waste product)
Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) (blood test)
This measures how well the kidneys are filtering the blood. Doctors measure blood creatinine levels and perform a calculation to find out your glomerular filtration rate (GFR).
Good Score: Over 90 is good. 60-89 should be monitored. Less than 60 for 3 months indicates kidney disease.
Step 5: Stay Healthy
6 Things People with Kidney Disease Should Do:
Lower high blood pressure
Manage blood sugar levels
Reduce salt intake
Avoid NSAIDs, a type of painkiller
Moderate protein consumption
Get an annual flu shot
9 Things Everyone Should Do:
Follow a balanced diet
Drink only in moderation
Monitor cholesterol levels
Get an annual physical
Know your family medical history
Step 6: Learn More
Do you need a kidney health check?