Americans are Kidney Clueless

New York, NY – Half of Americans do not fully understand what their kidneys do, or the signs and symptoms of kidney disease, according to new research released by the National Kidney Foundation.

The survey, conducted by BAV Consulting Market Research, posed basic kidney questions to more than 1,000 U.S. adults. Researchers found that only 46% of Americans understood that the kidneys produce urine, while 52% said they thought a urine test might catch the first signs of kidney disease.

“Kidneys are vital organs, but unfortunately Americans may not understand the role of their kidneys,” said Joseph Vassalotti, MD, National Kidney Foundation's Chief Medical Officer. “Kidneys produce urine to cleanse the body of wastes. Urine also happens to be one of the best ways to identify the early stages of kidney disease – by looking for albumin or protein in the urine.”

Beyond awareness of the kidneys’ functions, results of the 11–question survey also showed that 63% of respondents had never talked to a healthcare professional about their kidneys. Another 61% stated that they were unsure or had never been tested for kidney disease.

“We know that 1 in 3 Americans is at risk of developing kidney disease, so it’s discouraging to see that so many people are not aware of the major risk conditions,” Dr.  Vassalotti said. “Because kidney disease may be silent, it’s critically important that anyone at risk—those with high blood pressure, diabetes, age over 60 or a family history of kidney failure—partner with their clinician for testing annually.”

Furthermore, 71% of Americans were not sure or were incorrect in identifying the signs and symptoms of kidney disease.

“We know there is low awareness of kidney disease among those who have it,” said Dr. Vassalotti. “This study highlights the need to educate the public not only about kidney disease and its risk factors, but about basic kidney function and the simple tests that can catch kidney disease early.”


Kidney Disease Facts:

  • 1 in 3 American adults is at high risk for developing kidney disease today.
  • High blood pressure, diabetes, a family history of kidney failure and being over 60 are major risk factors for developing kidney disease.
  • 1 in 9 American adults have kidney disease -- and most don't know it.
  • Early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease.
  • Kidney disease risk can be reduced by controlling blood pressure and blood sugar, quitting smoking, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight.


The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families, and tens of millions of Americans at risk. For more information, visit