Chronic Kidney Disease
What is Chronic Kidney Disease and Who Gets It?, continued
Who is at Risk for Kidney Disease?
There are a number of different groups of Americans who are at particular risk for developing kidney disease:
- People with hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Those who inherit genes carrying certain kidney disorders
- African Americans
- Hispanic Americans
- Pacific Islander Americans
Diabetes is the number one cause of chronic kidney disease among the general population of the U.S., causing about 40 percent of all kidney failure.
High blood pressure is the second leading cause, responsible for about 25 percent of chronic kidney disease cases. High blood pressure can make your heart exert itself more, and, over a period of time, blood vessels throughout the body can become damaged. Once the blood vessels in the kidneys begin to deteriorate, they may be unable to remove wastes and excess fluid from your body. A vicious cycle begins, since excess fluid means blood pressure may rise further.
Because African Americans are more likely than Caucasian Americans to suffer from high blood pressure, they are at greater risk for kidney disease, even when their blood pressure is only slightly elevated. In fact, high blood pressure is the leading cause of kidney failure among African Americans. In the 20- to 49-year-old age group, African Americans are 20 times more likely to develop CKD from conditions related to high blood pressure.
American Indians, Hispanic Americans, and Pacific Islander Americans are also at greater risk of kidney disease. Some people suffer from a genetic disorder called polycystic kidney disease (PKD). People with PKD have inherited a gene that causes them to grow numerous cysts in their kidneys. About 600,000 Americans have PKD, and it is the fourth leading cause of kidney failure.
Another form of kidney disease is glomerulonephritis (or nephritis), a general term for many types of kidney inflammation. Autoimmune diseases, birth defects, and long-term use of certain drugs can also cause kidney disease.
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I have a friend, M, who has diabetes and never, ever tests her bloodsugar before she gets behind the wheel. This has always worried me about her. On Wednesday, she had a bad accident after passing out behind the wheel. She hit another car head on. I thank the universe that no one was killed, but she and the driver of the other vehicle were both badly injured. She's got a long healing road ahead of her, as does the woman she hit. I was talking about the...