Kidney Disease

Are You at Risk for Kidney Disease?

The kidneys are one of the most important organs in your body. Their function is to filter your blood, according to the SeniorHealth division of the National Institutes of Health. That process helps remove waste to make urine. But if the kidneys aren’t functioning, the SeniorHealth experts say, wastes can build up in the body, leading to serious and even fatal problems.

Here, the SeniorHealth experts list the major risk factors for kidney disease:

Diabetes and high blood pressure. Both these conditions damage the small blood vessels in your kidneys, the SeniorHealth experts say, and can cause kidney disease without your being aware of it.

Heart disease is also a risk factor, as is family history. The SeniorHealth experts caution that you are at higher risk if you have a mother, father, sister, or brother who has had kidney disease.

Overall, African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans tend to have a higher risk of kidney disease, largely because of higher rates of diabetes and hypertension, the experts say. However, there may be as yet unknown reason.

To lower your risk of kidney disease, the SeniorHealth experts recommend living as healthy a lifestyle as possible:

Eat fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods.

Cut back on salt

Limit your alcohol intake


Lose weight until you are at a normal level

Managing your cholesterol levels

Take medicines as your doctor advises

Quit smoking

Visit your doctor regularly

Adapted from materials issued by NIH SeniorHealth. For more information on this and other issues, click here. 

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