Newly Diagnosed with CKD? Here's What You Need to Know

Know your kidney numbers. 
Your kidney numbers include 2 tests: ACR (Albumin to Creatinine Ratio) and GFR (glomerular filtration rate). GFR is a measure of kidney function and is performed through a blood test. Your GFR will determine what stage of kidney disease you have – there are 5 stages. Know your stage.ACR is a urine test to see how much albumin (a type of protein) is in your urine. Too much albumin in your urine is an early sign of kidney damage. 
 
Get your blood pressure checked. 
Blood pressure checks are important since high blood pressure can damage the kidneys. Know what numbers are considered acceptable for your condition and work with your health care professionals to take steps that will keep you in that range.
 
Talk to your doctor about medication dosage and imaging tests. 
Many prescription and over-the-counter medications are filtered by the kidneys. This means that normal kidneys remove medications from the body. When your kidneys aren't working properly, medications can build up and cause you harm. It’s important to let ALL your healthcare providers know if you have kidney disease. You doctors should review all medications your taking – both over the counter and ones prescribed by a doctor. Your healthcare providers may need to make changes to your medications to make sure they are safe for your kidneys and prevent further kidney damage.
 
Exposure to intravenous contrast dyes used in imaging (MRI, CT or angiograms) can cause kidney damage, so be sure to speak with your doctor before scheduling one of these tests.
 
 
Talk to a dietitian. 
Eating a proper diet is essential for those with any stage of kidney disease. Across the board, cutting down on sodium is an important recommendation, but the kidney diet is very individualized. Be sure to make an appointment with a renal dietitian (one who specializes in kidney disease) immediately to receive your personalized diet plan. Medicare covers dietitian services for those with eGFR less than 50 as well as for those with diabetes. For kidney health recipes visit our My Food Coach App.
 
Plan to see the kidney specialist. 
Most experts agree that you should see a kidney specialist, called a nephrologist, when your eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate—a measure of kidney function) is less than 30.
 
Understand the kidney-heart connection. 
The kidney and heart are connected as kidney disease is a risk factor for heart disease and vice versa. Once you have a kidney disease diagnosis, ask the clinician that’s treating you what you can do to lower your risk of heart disease or treat it if you already have it. 7.  Have your blood cholesterol levels checked regularly.
 
Stop smoking. 
In addition to causing lung cancer and lung disease, smoking is also associated with kidney disease, kidney cancer and bladder cancer. Smoking slows the blood flow to vital organs like the kidneys, causing damage. Think of smoking as stepping on the accelerator for any disease that you may have. So if you have kidney disease, smoking can make it even worse.
 
Exercise.
Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and stay active. So keep moving!  Do what you are able to do and talk with your doctor about any health-related limitations you may have.
 

If you are diagnosed with stage 4 CKD then it’s important to also:

Learn about treatment options for kidney failure. 
If you’re in the late stages of kidney disease (stage 4 or 5), ask your kidney doctor or advanced practitioner about the different types of treatment options for kidney failure so you can choose the one that best suits your health and lifestyle. Options include: transplant, dialysis, and no treatment. There are different types of dialysis treatments to learn about as well including, in-center hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, home hemodialysis, and nocturnal dialysis.
 
Create an access to your bloodstream. 
If you’re planning to start hemodialysis, you’ll need to prepare by having surgery to create an access to your veins. Be sure to avoid needle sticks in that arm. Once you have your access placed there will be additional precautions you should take to keep your access working well.
 

Do you have more questions?

Call NKF Cares, our patient information help line toll free at 1.855.NKF.CARES (1.855.653.2273) or email nkfcares@kidney.org. We can also send you a free copy of any of our patient brochures on these topics and more.
 
Date Reviewed: 
January 13, 2017

The information shared on our websites is information developed solely from internal experts on the subject matter, including medical advisory boards, who have developed guidelines for our patient content. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. No one associated with the National Kidney Foundation will answer medical questions via e-mail. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.