Are You At Risk for Kidney Disease?

  1. Do you have diabetes?
  2. Do you have high blood pressure?
  3. Do you have heart disease?
  4. Are you 60 years of age or older?
  5. Is your ethnic background African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or Pacific Islander?
  6. Do you suffer from muscle cramping at night?
  7. Do you have swollen feet and ankles?
  8. Do you have puffiness around the eyes, particularly in the morning?
  9. Do you feel the urge to urinate more often, especially at night?
  10. Do you have unexpected weight loss or gain?

If you checked YES to any of the above questions, you could be at risk for kidney disease. The leading causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. How do they cause kidney damage? Diabetes increases pressure inside the kidney's filters. Over a period of time, this pressure damages the filters, which then leak protein into the urine. High blood pressure, or hypertension, means that the pressure of your blood against the walls of your blood vessels increases. If left untreated, hypertension can lead to kidney disease, heart attacks and strokes.

Why are African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders and American Indians at increased risk for kidney disease? One reason is that diabetes is more common in these groups than in the population at large. African Americans experience a higher incidence of high blood pressure. These groups may have an inherited tendency to develop these diseases.

If you think you may be at risk for kidney disease, ask your doctor for tests, including blood and urine tests that can determine how well your kidneys are functioning. For more information, check out the two simple tests to check for kidney disease.