Risk factors for kidney disease
Kidneys play a crucial role in our body by filtering waste and excess fluids from our blood. They also help regulate blood pressure, and electrolyte balance, and produce hormones that stimulate the production of red blood cells. As we age, our kidneys gradually lose their ability to function correctly, and several risk factors can speed up this process.
One of the primary risk factors for kidney disease is simply aging. As we grow older, our kidneys’ ability to function declines. The kidneys’ blood vessels can thicken and harden, reducing blood flow and impairing their ability to filter waste. The filtering units of the kidneys, called nephrons, can also become damaged over time, leading to a decline in kidney function.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, can damage the kidneys’ blood vessels and impair their ability to filter waste from the blood. High blood pressure can also cause scarring and narrowing of the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, making it difficult for them to filter waste properly. Over time, this damage can lead to chronic kidney disease.
Diabetes is another leading cause of kidney disease at any age. High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, reducing their ability to filter waste and leading to chronic kidney disease. It’s essential to manage your blood sugar levels carefully if you have diabetes to reduce the risk of kidney disease.
Cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease or stroke, can increase your risk of kidney disease. These conditions can damage the blood vessels that supply blood to the kidneys, reducing their ability to function correctly. People with cardiovascular disease are also more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes, which are both risk factors for kidney disease.
Smoking is another significant risk factors for kidney disease at any age. Smoking can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, reducing blood flow and impairing their ability to function correctly. Smoking can also worsen other risk factors for kidney disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Family history of kidney disease
If you have a family history of kidney disease, you may be at a higher risk of developing the condition. Some forms of kidney disease, such as polycystic kidney disease, are genetic and can run in families.
Can Kidney Disease Be Cured?
Although chronic kidney disease (CKD) cannot be completely cured, it is possible to manage the symptoms and prevent them from worsening with the treatment.
The type of treatment that will be recommended for you depends on the stage of your CKD.
The primary methods of treatment include:
Making lifestyle changes to promote overall health and well-being.
Taking medication to manage associated conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Undergoing dialysis, a procedure that imitates some of the kidney’s functions, which may be necessary in advanced stages of CKD.
Receiving a kidney transplant, which may also be necessary in the advanced stages of CKD.
How Often Should I get my kidneys Checked?
If you have a higher chance of developing kidney disease, with diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of these conditions, it is important to check if you have kidney disease. You can ask your nephrologist to perform these three basic tests to find out whether you have kidney disease:
- Blood pressure
- Urine test to check for blood/protein
- Urine Albumin/Creatinine Ratio (UACR)
- Creatinine-to measure GFR
It is recommended to have these tests done once every year to catch early signs of kidney disease and start treatment immediately. It is essential to treat early kidney disease to prevent it from progressing further. You can learn more about these tests – “Kidney Disease Screening”