Kidneys carry out the important function of flushing out all the excess fluids, electrolytes, and other wastes including urea and creatinine from the blood in the form of urine. This vital function, if not carried out properly and efficiently, can lead to a build-up of all the wastes within the body, which could lead to bloating and other disorders such as kidney disease or kidney failure.


The present number of cases of those suffering from renal disease is high, and even more alarming is the high number of patients receiving renal transplant. All of this can put an economic burden on countries’ health systems along with the patients. However, this burden as well as the shocking number of cases can be reduced by early intervention to detect and treat chronic kidney disease. This early intervention can be accomplished by identifying the risk factors that cause kidney disease as well as individuals who are at great risk.


The risk factors of kidney disease

Medical reasons

  • Obesity

Obesity has an effect on the body in general, including affecting the glomerular filtration process, thereby leading to tension on the capillary walls and causing hyper filtration. Disorders such as oxidative stress, inflammation, hypervolemia, endothelial dysfunction, adipokine derangements, and a prothrombotic state slowly lead to damage of the kidneys and are all due to excess weight. Also, excess weight around the abdomen has been linked to greater risk of kidney disease.


  • Nephrotoxins

Exposure to nephrotoxins such as heavy metals, recreational drugs, alcohol and analgesics used excessively along with smoking increased the likelihood of kidney disease compared to those who were not exposed.


  • Hypertension

The pressure on the arteries that leads to hypertension further extends pressure on the intraglomerular capillaries, further leading to failure of kidney function. Those suffering from hypertension have been found to suffer from kidney disease later on.


  • Diabetes mellitus

Another leading cause of kidney disease is diabetes, which causes hyperinfiltration injury, species of reactive oxygen, and end products of advanced glycosylation.


Acute kidney injury also greatly increases the risk of chronic kidney disease. Obstructive sleep apnea has also been recently identified as a risk factor for kidney disease.

Other medical risks leading to kidney disease include autoimmune diseases, atherosclerosis, scleroderma, vasculitis, cirrhosis, kidney stones, and cancer of the kidneys or bladder.



Social and other risk factors

  • Ethnicity

African Americans are at a five times higher risk of developing kidney disease as compared to Caucasians.


  • Family history and genetic component

Chronic kidney disease has a component that is heritable, and further mutations have been identified that are carried by a population, increasing the risk of kidney disease.

Similarly, kidney disease has been found to have greater prevalence in members of a family in which another family member has kidney disease.


  • Age

The elderly population are at greater risk for kidney disease as the renal functions decrease with age.


  • Gender

Studies have revealed that kidney disease is more prevalent in men compared to women, except for the population in Turkey, where it is vice-versa.


  • Low birth weight

Low birth weight can lead to a lower number of nephrons, thus predisposing these individuals to renal disease and hypertension.


  • Socioeconomic status

Those families coming from lower socioeconomic status in terms of wealth, education, income, occupation, and housing were more likely to suffer from kidney diseases.


These factors sum up the major risks leading to kidney disease.