The Link Between Kidney Disease, Diabetes, and High Blood Pressure

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According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, kidney disease affects more than 4.5 million African Americans in the United States. African Americans make up about 14 percent of the US population but account for 32 percent of new cases of kidney failure. The National Kidney Disease Education Program (NKDEP) wants more African Americans to make the connection between the roles improperly managed diabetes and high blood pressure can play in increasing ones risk for kidney disease; 80 percent of new cases of kidney failure among African Americans are due to diabetes and high blood pressure. Heart disease and a family history of kidney failure also increase kidney disease risk.



Early kidney disease has no signs or symptoms, and many individuals who suffer from kidney disease can feel healthy until their kidneys have almost stopped working. This means that the only way to detect the disease is to get tested. The test for kidney disease involves both a blood and a urine sample, and can be requested by a person at his/her next check-up with a doctor or other primary care provider. Kidney disease is often a "progressive" disease, which means it can get worse over time. It may lead to kidney failure, and the only treatment options for kidney failure are dialysis or a kidney transplant.


NKDEP helps prepare African Americans to talk about kidney disease. NKDEP has developed programs like the "Family Reunion Initiative" to encourage families to discuss their kidney health history, and "Kidney Sundays," to provide educational materials to faith communities to discuss kidney health. The campaign offers other free materials, as well.


Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, discusses the importance of kidney testing, the prevalence of the disease in the African-American community, how African Americans can keep their kidneys healthy, and how awareness events can serve as reminders for people to take better care of their kidneys. For more information, please visit

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