Kidney Disease

Risk Factors and Prevention

Risk Factors

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of kidney disease. Both diabetes and high blood pressure damage the small blood vessels in your kidneys and can cause kidney disease -- without you feeling it.

Other risk factors for kidney disease include:

  • cardiovascular (heart) disease
  • family history -- if you have a mother, father, sister, or brother who has had kidney failure, then you are at increased risk.

Additionally, African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans are at high risk for developing kidney failure. This is in part due to high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure in these communities.

If you have ANY of these risk factors, talk to your health care provider about getting tested for kidney disease. If you have kidney disease, you may not feel any different. It is very important to get tested if you are at risk.

(Watch the video to learn more about reducing your risk for kidney disease. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)


If you are at risk for kidney disease, the most important steps you can take to keep your kidneys healthy are to

  • get your blood and urine checked for kidney disease.
  • manage your diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Manage your diabetes and high blood pressure, and keep your kidneys healthy by

  • eating healthy foods: fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods
  • cutting back on salt
  • limiting your alcohol intake
  • being more physically active
  • losing weight if you are overweight
  • taking your medicines the way your provider tells you to
  • keeping your cholesterol levels in the target range
  • taking steps to quit, if you smoke
  • seeing your doctor regularly.

By following these steps and keeping risk factors under control -- especially your blood pressure -- you may be able to delay or even prevent kidney failure. Talk to your health care provider to find out the steps that are right for you.

Learn about preventing high blood pressure.

Learn about preventing type 2 diabetes.