Kidney Disease

The Facts About Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

  • 30 million American adults have CKD and millions of others are at increased risk.
  • Early detection can help prevent the progression of kidney disease to kidney failure.
  • Heart disease is the major cause of death for all people with CKD.
  • Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is the best estimate of kidney function.
  • Hypertension causes CKD and CKD causes hypertension.
  • Persistent proteinuria (protein in the urine) means CKD is present.
  • High risk groups include those with diabetes, hypertension and family history of kidney failure.
  • African Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Seniors are at increased risk.
  • Two simple tests can detect CKD: blood pressure, urine albumin and serum creatinine.

What causes CKD?

The two main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure, which are responsible for up to two-thirds of the cases. Diabetes happens when your blood sugar is too high, causing damage to many organs in your body, including the kidneys and heart, as well as blood vessels, nerves and eyes. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the pressure of your blood against the walls of your blood vessels increases. If uncontrolled, or poorly controlled, high blood pressure can be a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes and chronic kidney disease. Also, chronic kidney disease can cause high blood pressure.

How is Kidney Failure Treated?

Kidney failure may be treated with hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis or kidney transplantation. Treatment with hemodialysis (the artificial kidney) may be performed at a dialysis unit or at home. Hemodialysis treatments are usually performed three times a week. Peritoneal dialysis is generally done daily at home. Continuous Cycling Peritoneal Dialysis requires the use of a machine while Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis does not. A kidney specialist can explain the different approaches and help individual patients make the best treatment choices for themselves and their families.

Kidney transplants have high success rates. The kidney may come from someone who died or from a living donor who may be a relative, friend or possibly a stranger, who donates a kidney to anyone in need of a transplant.

When is dialysis needed?

You need dialysis when you develop end stage kidney failure –usually by the time you lose about 85 to 90 percent of your kidney function and have a GFR of <15.

What does dialysis do?

When your kidneys fail, dialysis keeps your body in balance by:

  • removing waste, salt and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body
  • keeping a safe level of certain chemicals in your blood, such as potassium, sodium and bicarbonate
  • helping to control blood pressure

How long do dialysis treatments last?

The time needed for your dialysis depends on:

  • how well your kidneys work
  • how much fluid weight you gain between treatments
  • how much waste you have in your body
  • how big you are
  • the type of artificial kidney used

Usually, each hemodialysis treatment lasts about four hours and is done three times per week.

How long can you live on dialysis?

If your kidneys have failed, you will need to have dialysis treatments for your whole life unless you are able to get a kidney transplant.  Life expectancy on dialysis can vary depending on your other medical conditions and how well you follow your treatment plan. Average life expectancy on dialysis is 5-10 years.

Information provided from The National Kidney Foundation – https://www.kidney.org/