Common risk factors for kidney disease


Kidney disease affects many Americans. Here are the most common risk factors.

Age and background

Kidney disease is more common in older people. It is also more common among some ethic groups. These groups include African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders. They are also at higher risk for diseases that make kidney disease worse, like diabetes and high blood pressure.


Diabetes is a common risk factor for kidney disease. If you have diabetes, your body can’t control blood sugar levels. For most people, insulin helps balance blood sugar during the day. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough of it or can’t use it well.

Diabetes damages your kidneys, which can cause chronic kidney disease. Work with your doctor to control diabetes. Lifestyle changes and medicines can help.

High blood pressure

Blood pressure is the force blood puts on your blood vessels. High blood pressure occurs when there’s too much force. It can damage blood vessels if it isn’t kept in check. This can damage the kidneys.

High blood pressure can be helped with lifestyle changes and medicines. You can also lower it when you stop smoking and keep a healthy weight.

Lowering your blood pressure also lowers your risk for other issues like heart disease and stroke.

Family history

Kidney disease can be passed down through families. If a close family member had kidney disease, tell your doctor. A yearly blood test can catch it early.

Autoimmune disease

The immune system helps the body fight infections. In some people it attacks healthy tissue, including the kidneys. That makes it a risk factor for kidney disease.

Other risk factors

Other risk factors could a sign of kidney disease. These include:

  • Being overweight.
  • Heart disease.
  • Drinking too much alcohol.
  • Swelling in the body.

If you have polycystic kidney disease (PKD), it could cause kidney damage later on. Talk about the steps you can take to lower your risk with your doctor.