The Top 5 Things You Should Know About Chronic Kidney Disease


Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects 35.5 million adults in the U.S., but as many as 9 in 10 people don’t even know they have it.

The 2 most common causes of CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure. While CKD can affect anyone, individuals with these risk factors have a higher chance of developing it. Around 1 in 3 adults with diabetes also have CKD, while approximately 1 in 5 U.S. adults with high blood pressure may also have CKD. Notably, diabetes and high blood pressure are also the two leading causes of kidney failure.

If left untreated, CKD can progress to kidney failure and early cardiovascular disease, which can lead to death. Understanding this condition will help you better understand the warning signs to better protect your health.

Here are the top 5 things you need to know about CKD:

What is a normal creatinine level?

Creatinine is a chemical compound that is left over when your muscles produce energy in your body. When kidneys are healthy, they filter creatinine out of your blood.

By measuring your creatinine level, your doctor will be able to assess how well your kidneys are filtering waste from your blood. The typical range is:

An elevated level of creatinine is a sign of poor kidney function.

Do people with CKD stage 5 need dialysis?

There are 5 stages of CKD, with Stage 5 being the most advanced. Generally, patients are considered candidates for dialysis when they reach this stage. This is when their kidneys function at a glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) of less than 15.

Nearly 97% of the 130,000 Americans who were diagnosed with kidney failure in 2020 began dialysis.

Does having comorbidities affect the need for dialysis?

The most common comorbidities among dialysis patients are hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, hepatitis B, and cerebrovascular disease.

The impact of dialysis on symptoms caused by CKD varies depending on the specific comorbidities a patient has. Patients with stroke, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral vascular disease, frailty, or dementia may experience worsening symptoms with dialysis.

Will CKD always progress if it’s not diagnosed or treated before stage 5?

Not all patients with chronic kidney disease progress to kidney failure. CKD has varying degrees of seriousness and usually worsens if left untreated.

As Dr. Bricker, MD stated in Renologic’s webinar, Chronic Kidney Disease Unveiled: Shocking Facts, Catastrophic Costs & High Value Benefit Strategies, “You can’t cure it (CKD), but you can stop its progression to the point where someone can live a totally normal life.”

Because CKD is not curable, early detection will allow you to start treating it and prevent it from worsening.

Is a test/screening for CKD done at each annual physical?

Even before symptoms of CKD appear, routine bloodwork can show signs that someone is in the initial stages. The earlier it is detected, the easier it is to treat. And that’s why it’s important to have annual physicals.

If your doctor believes you may have CKD, you may undergo more tests to confirm this diagnosis. Further testing may include urine tests, imaging tests like ultrasounds, and in some cases, a kidney biopsy.


Though many who have CKD are unaware that they have it, knowing more about this condition will help you protect your health. Patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension have a higher risk of developing CKD and thus should seek screening. Early detection through routine bloodwork can improve the management and outcome of this condition.

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