Risk factors for CKD

A risk factor is an environmental, chemical, psychological, physiological or genetic element that predisposes an individual to develop a disease. There are the risk factors that we ourselves can act to eliminate them, e.g. smoking (modifiable) and those we cannot intervene (non-modifiable), e.g. age.

  • Are there any risk factors for CKD?
  • Yes, and many of them are modifiable. Almost 10-12% of the general population suffers from CKD. It is especially important to be aware of the factors that predispose an individual to CKD and to prevent or delay the progression of CKD.
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  • Anyone who has one or more risk factors for CKD means that he or she will get CKD?
  • No. It does not mean that anyone who has one or more risk factors will suffer from CKD for sure. It means that he has a higher risk of suffering from CKD.
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  • What are the non-modifiable risk factors?
  • Family history: relatives of patients with end-stage CKD that undergo hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis (except for those suffering from hereditary nephropathy) have a higher risk of developing CKD or one of the risk factors for CKD.
  • Gender: CKD is more common in men.
  • Race: Caucasians have a lower risk of developing CKD than African Americans.
  • Age: renal function decreases with age. That is why people over 60 years of age are relatively easier to develop CKD.
  • Low - birth weight: another factor that is associated to some extent with increased risk of CKD, possibly because smaller babies have less nephrons (the building block of the kidney). It must be noted that this does not mean that any children born with low - birth weight will also develop kidney disease but it is good to know so that these individuals avoid the coexistence of other risk factors (such as smoking and obesity).
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  • What are the modifiable risk factors?
  • -Obesity: a strong independent risk factor for the development of CKD. People who are overweight or obese are twice or up to seven times more likely to develop end-stage CKD than those who have a healthy weight.
  • -Smoking: smoking through various pathways (kidney vessel dysfunction, renal tubular atrophy, vascular thrombosis) increases the risk for CKD.
  • -Nephrotoxic substances: high use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, alcohol, or drugs predispose to CKD.
  • -Diabetes Mellitus (DM): one of the most common causes of chronic renal failure. DM is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels, resulting from weakness / insufficiency of insulin production by the body, limited activity of insulin produced or a combination of both conditions.
  • -Hypertension: associated with both CKD and end-stage CKD. Unregulated hypertension for over 10 years is responsible for kidney damage. Hypertension is transmitted to the glomeruli (kidney filters), resulting in their damage and progressive renal failure.
  • -Sleep apnea: apart from the factors associated with it and contributing to CKD (smoking, obesity), sleep apnea is a separate risk factor. Almost 20 to 30% of patients with this disease suffer from CKD.
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  • If I modify the risk factors will I benefit?
  • Of course! Eliminating some of the risk factors will reduce the risk of CKD or delay its appearance.
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  • Mesogeios Dialysis Centers Group Scientific Team 
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  • Bibliography 
  • 1. Lo C, Zimbudzi E, Teede H, Cass A, Fulcher G, Gallagher M, Kerr PG, Jan S, Johnson G, Mathew T, Polkinghorne K, Russell G, Usherwood T, Walker R, Zoungas S. Review: An Australian model of care for co-morbid diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Nephrology (Carlton). 2018 Feb 5. doi: 10.1111/nep.13232.
  • 2. Lovre D, Shah S, Sihota A, Fonseca VA. Managing Diabetes and Cardiovascular Risk in Chronic Kidney Disease Patients. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2018 Mar;47(1):237-257. doi: 10.1016/j.ecl.2017.10.006. Epub 2017 Dec 18. Review.
  • 3. Risk Factors for Chronic Kidney Disease: A Prospective Study of 23,534 Men and Women in Washington County, Maryland, JASN November 1, 2003 vol. 14no. 11 2934-2941
  • 4. CKD: Causes and risk factors, American Kidney Fund, 2016
  • 5. Risk Factors in the Progression of Chronic Kidney Disease Rainer European Endocrinology, 2006 (2):41-46; DOI:  http://doi.org/10.17925/EE.2006.00.02.41
  • 6. Bethesda MD. Annual Data Report: Atlas of Chronic Kidney Disease and End-Stage Renal Disease in the United States. U.S. Renal Data System, USRDS, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2013. http://www.usrds.org/2013/pdf/v2_ch12_13.pdf. Accessed November 12 2013.
  • 7. Yamagata K, Ishida K, Sairenchi T, Takahashi H, Ohba S, Shiigai T, et al. Risk factors for chronic kidney disease in a community-based population: a 10-year follow-up study. Kidney international. 2007;71(2):159–66. doi:10.1038/sj.ki.5002017.
  • 8. Orth SR. Smoking and the kidney. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : JASN. 2002;13(6):1663–72.
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