Chronic Kidney Disease — A Growing Problem

More than 26 million American adults have chronic kidney disease (CKD) and millions more are at risk and don’t know it. Since kidney disease can sneak up without any warning in the way of symptoms, the disease has been labeled a “silent killer” and a “quiet epidemic.”

  • In 2011, over 615,000 Americans received treatment for kidney failure, also known as end stage renal disease (ESRD). This includes more than 430,000 dialysis patients and over 185,000 people with functioning kidney transplants.
  • Of the more than 120,000 Americans currently awaiting organ transplants, over 99,000 are waiting for a kidney.
  • Nearly ten times more patients are now being treated for kidney failure than in 1980.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 40% of the new cases. Over 228,000 people are living with kidney failure resulting from diabetes.
  • Uncontrolled or poorly controlled high blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure in the country, accounting for 28% of all cases. Over 151,000 people are living with kidney failure caused by high blood pressure.
  • The third and fourth leading causes of kidney failure in the U.S. are glomerulonephritis, an inflammatory disease of the kidneys, and polycystic kidney disease.
  • Kidney disease hits minorities disproportionately and minorities are approximately 1.5-4 times more likely than non-minorities to reach end stage renal disease. African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians and the elderly are also at increased risk.
  • In 2011, more than 92,000 Americans died from causes related to kidney failure.
  • Premature death from cardiovascular disease is higher in adults with CKD compared to adults without CKD.
  • CKD continues to be a major cause of lost productivity, physician visits and hospitalizations among men and women.
  • CKD is more common among women, but men with CKD are more than 50% more likely than women to progress to kidney failure.
  • Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of people with CKD. Individuals with early stages of CKD are more likely to die from heart disease than to reach end stage kidney disease.
  • In 2011, there were more than 17,600 kidney transplants performed in the United States.
  • Kidney disease is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Kidney disease causes more deaths than breast cancer or prostate cancer each year.

Updated January 2014

Sources of Facts and Statistics:
United States Renal Data System, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Health, United Network of Organ Sharing and Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, CDC National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Vital Statistics