What is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a progressive loss in kidney function over a period of months or years. Each of your kidneys has about a million tiny filters, called nephrons. If nephrons are damaged, they stop working. For a while, healthy nephrons can take on the extra work. But if the damage continues, more and more nephrons shut down. After a certain point, the nephrons that are left cannot filter your blood well enough to keep you healthy.
When kidney function falls below a certain point, it is called kidney failure. Kidney failure affects your whole body, and can make you feel very ill. Untreated kidney failure can be life-threatening.
What you should not forget:
- Early chronic kidney disease has no signs or symptoms.
- Chronic kidney disease usually does not go away.
- Kidney disease can be treated. The earlier you know you have it, the better your chances of receiving effective treatment.
- Blood and urine tests are used to check for kidney disease.
- Kidney disease can progress to kidney failure.
Kidney Diseases are Common, Harmful and often Treatable
Common: Between 8 and 10% of the adult population have some form of kidney damage, and every year millions die prematurely of complications related to Chronic Kidney Diseases (CKD).
- The first consequence of undetected CKD is the risk of developing progressive loss of kidney function that can lead to kidney failure (also called end-stage renal disease, ESRD) which means regular dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant is needed to survive.
- The second consequence of CKD is that it increases the risk of premature death from associated cardiovascular disease (i.e. heart attacks and strokes). Individuals who appear to be healthy who are then found to have CKD have an increased risk of dying prematurely from cardiovascular disease regardless of whether they ever develop kidney failure.
Treatable: If CKD is detected early and managed appropriately, the deterioration in kidney function can be slowed or even stopped, and the risk of associated cardiovascular complications can be reduced.