Risk Factors for CKDRisk factors make it more likely that you will develop a particular disease. Some risk factors can be modified, like high blood pressure or overusing certain medications. Others, like your age or race, can’t be controlled.
Risk Factors for CKD That Can Be Modified
- Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure. It is responsible for more than one out of three new cases, and almost 40% of new dialysis patients have diabetes.
- Hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension is the number two cause of kidney failure. Hypertension stresses and injures both the arteries that bring blood to the kidneys and the tiny capillaries inside the kidneys that filter blood.
- Obesity. Being obese triples the risk of CKD and is a major risk factor for developing diabetes and hypertension, both of which are also risk factors for CKD.
- Smoking. Smoking is a risk factor for CKD and is particularly harmful to kidneys that are already losing function. Cigarette smoke contains large amounts of cadmium and lead, which build up more in kidney tissue than in any other organ and are toxic even in very small amounts. Smoking also damages both large and small blood vessels.
- Certain painkillers. Heavy use of painkillers that contain ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen can cause nephritis (kidney inflammation), possibly leading to kidney failure. Antibiotics such as penicillin and vancomycin may also cause nephritis.
- Drug abuse. Some nonprescription drugs, including cocaine and heroin, can damage the kidneys and may lead to kidney failure.
- Inflammation. Glomerulonephritis, inflammation of the filtering units of the kidneys, can sometimes damage the kidneys enough to cause CKD. The condition may be inherited, or it may result from the body’s immune response to infections such as strep throat.
Risk Factors for CKD You Can’t Change
- Family history of CKD. If one or more of your blood relatives have CKD, you may have inherited genes that give you a higher risk of CKD. Polycystic kidney disease is an inherited disorder. A tendency to develop diabetes or high blood pressure can also run in families, and these disorders can lead to CKD as well.
- Premature birth. About 20% of infants born before 32 weeks gestation may have calcium deposits in their nephrons. These may lead to kidney problems when they get older.
- Age (65 or over). Kidney function lessens as you become older, increasing the risk of CKD.
- Injury. Trauma caused by accidents, some surgeries, and certain radiocontrast dyes can damage the kidneys or reduce blood flow, possibly leading to CKD.
- Race. African Americans, American Indians, and Asian Americans have a greater likelihood of developing CKD.
- Certain diseases. Having congestive heart failure, AIDS, sickle cell anemia, cancer, hepatitis C, or systemic lupus erythematosus (a connective tissue disease) puts you at higher risk for CKD.