Are You at Risk for Kidney Disease?

About 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. suffers from chronic kidney disease. This condition is often a silent enemy. By the time it causes symptoms, it may be too late to prevent kidney failure and avoid dialysis or transplant. Having kidney disease also increases the risk of heart disease.

However, there are ways for you to slow kidney disease. That’s why it’s important to find out if you’re at risk. Simple tests can diagnose the disease early, so you can take steps to protect your health.

Am I at risk for kidney disease?
You should be tested for kidney disease if you have:

•Diabetes. Diabetes is by far the biggest cause of kidney failure, accounting for almost half of all cases.
•High blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure is the second major cause of kidney failure. It accounts for about a third of all kidney disease.
•Kidney disease in your family. Kidney disease runs in families. If your mother, father, brother, or sister has kidney disease, there’s a chance you might have it, too.
It’s especially important to be tested if you’re also:

•African American, Native American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander. The rate of kidney disease in these groups is much higher than in whites.
•Over age 60. The risk for kidney disease increases with age.
The more risk factors you have, the greater the chance that you could have kidney disease.

How can I find out if I have kidney disease?
Your doctor can look for kidney disease by doing three simple tests:

•A blood test to look for a waste product called creatinine. Healthy kidneys filter it out of the blood and dispose of it in the urine. Doctors use the amount of creatinine in the blood to estimate the degree of kidney damage.
•A urine test to look for protein. Too much protein in the urine can be a sign of kidney damage.
•Blood pressure check. High blood pressure can cause kidney disease. It can also be a sign that kidney damage has already occurred.
How can I reduce my risk of kidney disease?
Diabetes and high blood pressure are the main causes of kidney disease, so it’s vital to control these conditions.

•Keep your blood sugar within a normal range if you have diabetes.
•Make sure you have your urine checked for small amounts of protein called microalbumin. Have this done at least once a year if you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Testing for microalbumin starts 5 years after a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and is also done annually thereafter.
•Get a blood test to check for creatinine each year if you have diabetes.
•Keep your blood pressure under control. You may need to take medicines to get it to your goal level.
Healthy habits can help you prevent or control diabetes and high blood pressure, which in turn helps protect your kidneys:

•Eat a healthy diet that’s high in fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains and low in sodium, like the DASH diet.
•Get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Always check with your doctor before increasing your activity level.
•Stay at a healthy weight, or lose weight if you need to.
•Don’t smoke. If you do, get help from your doctor to quit.

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