CKD Related Health Problems

As CKD worsens over time, related health problems become more likely. However, CKD-related health problems can improve with treatment.

 Heart Disease and Stroke

  • Having CKD increases the chances of having heart disease and stroke.
  • Managing high blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels—all factors that increase the risk for heart disease and stroke—is very important for people with CKD.

Early Death

Adults with CKD are at a higher risk of dying earlier than adults of similar age without CKD.

Health Problems Due to Low Kidney Function

  • Anemia or low red blood cell count, which can cause fatigue and weakness.
  • Extra fluid in the body, which can cause high blood pressure, swelling in the legs, or shortness of breath.
  • A weakened immune system, which make it easier to develop infections.
  • Loss of appetite or nausea.
  • Decreased sexual response.
  • Confusion, problems with memory and thinking, or depression.
  • Low calcium levels and high phosphorus levels in the blood, which can cause bone disease and heart disease.
  • High potassium levels in the blood, which can cause an irregular or abnormal heartbeat and lead to death.
Definition of Renal

Renal is a medical term meaning “having to do with the kidneys.”

Kidney Failure

Kidney failure happens when kidney damage is severe and kidney function is very low. Dialysis or a kidney transplant is then needed for survival. Kidney failure treated with dialysis or a kidney transplant is called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). CKD is more likely to lead to kidney failure, especially in older adults, if the kidneys are damaged by the inability to manage risk factors, repeated kidney infections, or drugs or toxins that are harmful to the kidneys. Social factors such as lower income and related factors of food insecurity and poorer access to quality health care are also associated with worsening CKD. However, not everyone with CKD develops kidney failure. If CKD is detected early, treatment may slow the decline in kidney function and delay kidney failure. In some cases, kidney failure develops even with treatment.

Talk to a kidney doctor about treatment options if CKD is severe and kidney function is very low.

Facts About ESRD

  • In 2018, about 131,600 people in the United States started treatment for ESRD.
  • Nearly 786,000 people in the United States, or 2 in every 1,000 people, are currently living with ESRD: 71% are on dialysis and 29% are living with a kidney transplant.
  • For every 2 women who develop ESRD, 3 men develop ESRD.
  • For every non-Hispanic White person who develops ESRD, 3 non-Hispanic Black people develop ESRD.
  • For every 3 non-Hispanic people who develop ESRD, 4 Hispanic people develop ESRD.
  • Among adults aged 18 years or older in the United States, diabetes and high blood pressure are the main causes of ESRD.
  • Among children and adolescents younger than 18 years in the United States, polycystic kidney disease and glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) are the main causes of ESRD.

Reported Causes of End-Stage Renal Disease in the United States

For n=785,883 39% have diabetes, 26% high blood pressure, 15% Glomerulonephritis, 15% other cause, and 5% unknown cause
Page last reviewed: July 12, 2022