5 Causes and Risk Factors for Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD), also known as chronic renal disease, is a condition in which a person gradually loses vital kidney function. Unfortunately, this disease is fairly common. In fact, it has been estimated that approximately 37 million Americans have this condition.

Why Is CKD So Significant?

The conditions that cause CKD slowly inhibit the kidneys from carrying out the vital functions of cleansing toxins from the blood and converting waste products into urine. This damage can compound itself over time, as kidney function decreases. As CKD becomes more severe, waste begins to build up in an individual’s blood, as it is no longer filtered out by the kidneys. When this buildup occurs, CKD patients will begin to feel sick and may experience exhaustion, fatigue, shortness of breath, pain, decreased appetite, swelling and fluid retention, itchiness, and more.

Many complications can develop as a result of CKD. These include anemia, high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease, atherosclerosis, weakening bones, nerve damage, and increasingly poor nutritional health. If CKD is allowed to progress, each of these complications can become quite serious. Like with many other conditions that can develop as a result of aging, early detection is important to slow the progression of symptoms.

Common Causes and Risk Factors of CKD

CKD can stem from many different causes, but there are four significant risk factors that greatly increase the chances of experiencing this condition. In general, an individual will be at greater risk of developing CKD if:

  1. They have diabetes. Diabetes is the single most frequent cause of CKD — in fact, 44% of CKD cases are a direct result of diabetes. Diabetes can take a toll on blood circulation within a person’s glomerulus, the group of capillaries that initiate the process of filtering waste from the blood. Further, individuals with diabetes are likely to have other risk factors for CKD, as well, including high blood pressure and poor glucose control.
  2. They have high blood pressure. In the United States, high blood pressure (hypertension) is the cause of around 29% of CKD cases. When an individual has high blood pressure, their blood vessels become weakened—including the vital blood vessels and clusters of capillaries in the glomerulus. Ultimately, continued damage can lead those blood vessels to stop functioning altogether. Kidneys affected by CKD can’t filter out waste and extra fluids, leading to a further increase in blood pressure, hypertension and kidney stress.
  3. They are of advanced age or have a genetic predisposition. If an individual has a family history of kidney disease, then they are at a higher risk of developing it, as well. In addition, CKD is more common in older individuals. Recent research suggests that both instances may be tied to a decreased level of klotho protein—an anti-aging protein—in the blood. Low klotho levels occur in certain individuals with a genetic predisposition to produce less of the protein, and klotho naturally decreases with age. Supplementing klotho has been shown to slow the progression of CKD.

Combine Healthy Living with Advanced Therapies

If you are looking to avoid CKD, it’s important to live a healthy lifestyle as you age. If you eat well and exercise regularly, there is a lower probability that you will develop high blood pressure or diabetes. This is especially crucial if you have a family history of CKD.

Fortunately for the millions of CKD patients around the world, while CKD is a serious condition, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Researchers are working hard to develop therapies that address the underlying causes of CKD, including klotho therapies and treatments to reverse diabetes and hypertension. One day soon, researchers hope to eliminate CKD before it begins.


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