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6 risk factors for kidney disease — and how to start protecting your kidneys now

An estimated 37 million adults in the United States have chronic kidney disease, according to the CDC. Even more surprising is that most of those cases are undiagnosed. March is Kidney Awareness Month, a time to learn more about this vital organ. Being aware of the risk factors for kidney disease can help with both prevention and early detection. Here are six of the most common risk factors and suggestions on how to reduce risk.


One of the biggest risk factors for kidney disease is diabetes. Kidneys are filled with tiny blood vessels that help clean the blood. If the sugar level in the blood is too high, these vessels can be damaged and lead to kidney failure over time.

High blood pressure

Having no control over your blood pressure is another factor that increases risk for kidney disease. The tiny blood vessels in the kidneys that clean the blood can be damaged if the blood flows through them with too much force. Since one in three adults in the United States struggles with high blood pressure, it is important to check with your doctor to see if you need help controlling your blood pressure.


When a person is overweight, the kidneys are forced to work harder to filter waste. This extra work can damage the kidneys and lead to kidney disease. Work on maintaining a healthy weight to reduce kidney disease risk.

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Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asian Americans have a higher risk of developing kidney disease. There is no clear reason for this, but if you belong to one of these groups, take steps to monitor the health of your kidneys.

Family history

The chance of developing kidney disease increases if a family member has kidney disease. The genes that come from your parents can put you at a higher risk. Although you can’t change your genetic makeup, you can take steps to live a healthy lifestyle that can reduce genetic risk.


Kidney function begins to decline as a natural part of aging. The amount of tissue decreases and the filtering ability is less effective. This natural process can lead to kidney disease if steps aren’t taken to monitor the kidneys.

Reducing the risk

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Although we can’t stop aging, change our family history or alter our heritage, there are ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease. Most of the prevention revolves around living a healthier lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise. Paying attention to instructions for over-the-counter medications is important too, since improperly taking pain medications can damage the kidneys. Finally, take a team approach to kidney health with your doctor. Share family history and ask for help in monitoring and maintaining your kidney health.

A time for extra care

After being hospitalized for surgery or another major medical event, extra attention is needed during recovery. Although it may feel like the worst part is over, complications can occur during recovery if proper attention is not given. Taking medications incorrectly and failing to control blood pressure are just two of the ways that kidney damage can occur. Instead of hoping for a successful recovery, consider a stay in a short-term care facility where there is a team of experienced professionals ready to guide you on the path to better health. One of the premier locations for this level of care is Whitehall of Deerfield.

Whitehall of Deerfield is ranked among the top 1% of all Illinois post-hospital rehabilitation centers by Newsweek — and has consistently received both U.S. News & World Report’s and Medicare’s highest five-star rating. Learn more about the individualized, one-on-one therapy programs, world-class amenities and COVID-19 safety measures by visiting WhitehallofDeerfield.com or calling 847-945-4600.

— Judy Buchenot for Whitehall of Deerfield

300 Waukegan Road Deerfield, IL 60015 | 847.945.4600