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Race, Ethnicity, & Kidney Disease

33% of American adults are at risk for kidney disease.

Yes, one in three people.

If you are Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander, American Indian, or Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, heritage you may be at an increased risk for kidney disease.

Black or African Americans are more than 3 times as likely and Hispanics or Latinos are 1.3 times more likely to have kidney failure compared to White Americans.

Minority populations have much higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and heart disease, all of which increase the risk for kidney disease. Access to healthcare may also play a role.

The key is to find kidney disease as early as possible and understand its risk factors before the trouble starts. Regular testing for everyone is important and is especially important for people at risk.

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What is kidney disease?

Healthy kidneys have many important jobs. They remove waste products and extra water from your body, help make red blood cells, help keep your bones healthy and help control blood pressure.

When you have kidney disease, kidney damage keeps the kidneys from doing these important jobs the way they should. Kidney damage may be due to a physical injury or a disease like diabetes, high blood pressure, or other health problems.

If you have kidney disease, you may need to take medicines, limit salt and certain foods in your diet, get regular exercise, and more.

Finding and treating your kidney disease early can help slow or even stop kidney disease from getting worse. But if your kidney disease gets worse, it can lead to kidney failure. If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive.

Can anyone get kidney disease?

Yes, anyone can get kidney disease at any age. However, some people are more likely than others to get it.

These are the 5 main risk factors of kidney disease:

Other important risk factors for kidney disease:

  • Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian American, American Indian, or Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander heritage
  • 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
  • Kidney stones

Knowing if you are at risk for kidney disease is the first step toward leading a healthier life. We’ve made it easier than ever to know your risk.

It takes just a minute to take our Kidney Risk Quiz and find out if you are at risk for developing kidney disease.

Why are minority populations at greater risk for kidney disease?

Some minority populations are more likely to have diabetes as compared to White Americans. In fact, 13% of Black or African Americans adults and 13.2% of Hispanic or Latino adults have been diagnosed with diabetes. American Indians and Alaska Natives are twice as likely to have diabetes as White Americans. Having diabetes can lead to kidney disease and kidney failure.

The rates of kidney failure caused by diabetes have doubled in Asian Americans ages 30-39 between 2000-2010. Diabetes also causes kidney failure more often in Hispanics or Latinos than in White Americans.

High blood pressure is also a serious problem for minorities. High blood pressure strikes more than 1 out of 3 Blacks or African Americans, one of the highest rates in the world. Nearly 1 in 4 Hispanics or Lations has high blood pressure and most do not know that high blood pressure can cause kidney disease.

How does healthcare access play a role?

Minority populations may have less access to healthcare than other Americans. For example, studies found that about one-third of Hispanics or Latinos, 20% Blacks or African Americans, and nearly 1 out of 3 American Indians and Alaska Natives were uninsured.

Many people from minority populations do not even know they have kidney disease until it's in the latest stages. By then it is too late to slow or stop the kidney damage from getting worse.

What can I do to prevent kidney disease?

First, see if you are at risk by taking our one-minute quiz at

Not all minorities will get kidney disease. And not everyone who has diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, older age, or a family history of kidney failure will get it. But if you have any of these risk factors you should:

Get tested for kidney disease. There are two simple tests for kidney disease:

  • A simple urine test checks to see if you have protein in your urine. Your body needs protein. But it should be in the blood, not the urine. Having a small amount of protein in your urine may mean that your kidneys are not filtering your blood well enough. This can be an early sign of kidney disease.
  • A simple blood test for GFR, which stands for glomerular filtration rate. Your GFR number tells you how well your kidneys are working. The lab estimates your GFR using a simple blood test called creatinine (a waste product), along with your age, race, and gender.

Get tested for diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. If you don't know whether you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, it's important for you to find out.

Live a healthy lifestyle. Be sure to exercise, eat a healthy diet, lose weight if needed, avoid smoking, and limit alcohol. A healthy lifestyle can keep you from getting kidney disease, and it can also help slow or stop kidney disease from getting worse. Read our 6-Step guide to protecting your kidney health.

If you would like more information, please contact us.


© 2020 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.

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