Fast Facts

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Healthy kidneys:

  • Regulate the body’s fluid levels
  • Filter wastes and toxins from the blood
  • Release a hormone that regulates blood pressure
  • Activate Vitamin D to maintain healthy bones
  • Release the hormone that directs production of red blood cells
  • Keep blood minerals in balance (sodium, phosphorus, potassium)

Every 30 minutes, your kidneys filter all the blood in your body, removing waste and excess fluid.

Most people have two kidneys, but it is possible to live with only one.

Kidney Disease

  • 1 in 3 American adults is currently at risk for developing kidney disease.1 
  • 26 million American adults have kidney disease -- and most don't know it.3
  • High blood pressure and diabetes are the two leading causes of kidney disease.4
  • Major risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, family history of kidney failure and being age 60 or older. Additional risk factors include kidney stones, smoking, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
  • Those at risk should have simple blood and urine tests to check if their kidneys are working properly.
  • Kidney disease is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States.
    • Every year, kidney disease kills more people than breast or prostate cancer.5
    • In 2013, more than 47,000 Americans died from kidney disease. 5
  • Men with kidney disease are more likely than women to progress to kidney failure.15
  • Black Americans are 3 times more likely to experience kidney failure.7
  • Hispanics are 1½ times more likely to experience kidney failure.7
  • Once the kidneys fail, dialysis or a kidney transplant is required.
  • Approximately 450,000 Americans are on dialysis and approximately 185,000 live with a functioning kidney transplant.4
  • Of more than 122,000 Americans currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant, over 101,000 need a kidney. Fewer than 17,000 people receive one each year.8
  • Every day, 12 people die waiting for a kidney.8

Signs and Symptoms

  • Because kidney disease often has no symptoms, it can go undetected until it is very advanced.6
  • In its advanced stages, some signs of kidney disease include:
    • Fatigue, weakness
    • Difficult, painful urination
    • Foamy urine
    • Pink, dark urine (blood in urine)
    • Increased need to urinate (especially at night)
    • Puffy eyes
    • Swollen face, hands, abdomen, ankles, feet
    • Increased thirst
  • Early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease.6

High Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Disease

  • High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney disease.4
    • In 2012, high blood pressure led to more than 32,600 new cases of kidney failure.4
    • 159,000 are currently living with kidney failure caused by high blood pressure. 4
  • 73 million American adults have high blood pressure.
  • 20% of all Americans with high blood pressure don't know they have it.9
  • Since high blood pressure usually has no symptoms and can affect anyone at any age, it's important to have regular blood pressure check-ups.
  • Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of people with CKD.16
  • Individuals with early stages of CKD are more likely to die from heart disease than to reach end stage kidney disease.17


  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease.4
    • In 2012, diabetes led to more than 50,500 new cases of kidney failure. 4
    • Nearly 240,000 people are currently living with kidney failure caused by diabetes.4
  • Nearly 26 million American adults have diabetes.10
  • Of these, nearly 7 million are undiagnosed.
  • More than 35% of all people age 20 or older with diabetes have kidney disease.

Kidney Stones11

  • 1 in 10 Americans will have a kidney stone during his or her lifetime.
  • Each year, more than half a million people visit emergency rooms for kidney stone problems.
  • White Americans are more prone to developing kidney stones.
  • Men are much more likely than women to develop kidney stones.

Kidney Cancer

  • Kidney cancer is nearly twice as common in men as in women.12
  • Black Americans have a slightly higher rate of kidney cancer than white Americans.12

Economic Burden of Kidney Disease

  • Annual medical payments for a patient with kidney disease increase from $15,000 in stage 3 to $28,000 in stage 4 to more than $70,000 in stage 5.13
  • CKD continues to be a major cause of lost productivity, physician visits and hospitalizations among men and women.18
  • The average annual number of physician visits for an individual with diagnosed kidney disease is 10.28 -- second only to cancer.14
  • Medicare spends $29 billion annually to treat people with kidney failure.19
  • In 2012, total Medicare expenditures for all stages of kidney disease was over $87 billion (not including prescription medications). 19
    • The majority of these expenses, about $58 billion, were spent caring for those with chronic kidney disease. 19


  2. Grams et al. Am J Kidney Dis. 2013. 62(2):245-252.
  3. Coresh et al. JAMA. 2007. 298: 2038-2047.
  4. 2014 Annual Report
  8. as of October 28, 2014.
  13. Sullivan S. J Manag Care Pharm. 2007 Dec; 13(9 Suppl D):S19-21.
  14. Schneider KM, O'Donnell BE, Dean D. Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2009 Sep 8; 7:82.
  19. 2013 Annual Report

Updated Oct, 2015