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Kidney Diseases

Kidney Disease in African Americans

Kidney disease is a serious problem in African Americans, especially those who:

In addition, many African Americans have inherited a gene that makes them more likely to develop kidney failure.  Although kidney failure sometimes runs in a family, anyone can have kidney problems, especially if they have one or more of the three conditions listed above.

What are the signs of kidney disease?

The most dangerous thing about kidney disease is that it often causes no signs or symptoms at all until it reaches a very late stage.  A person can have high blood pressure or diabetes for many years and never know it until something happens, such as:

The sad thing about a "silent" disease like hypertension is that it can easily be treated so that bad results like kidney failure do not happen.

Some of the early signs of kidney disease and the conditions that cause it are:

What can you do to prevent or reduce your risk of kidney disease?

If you are diabetic:

It is very important to control your blood sugars by following a strict diabetic diet and by taking meds or insulin to keep your blood sugar in a good range.

If you have high blood pressure:

It is important to follow a low-salt diet.  This means avoiding salty foods like:

It also means not adding salt to your food at the table.

It is also very important to take your blood pressure meds regularly, at the same time each day. Be careful not to skip doses or to run out of meds.

If you are overweight:

you should try to lose weight both by trying to get more exercise and by reducing the amount that you eat, especially fattening foods such as:

You do not have to go to a gym to exercise! You can do things like walking or running in your neighborhood and taking stairs instead of the elevator.

If you smoke:

you should stop right away! In addition to causing lung cancer and other types of cancer, smoking increases your risk of:

Smoking not only damages your lungs, but also helps to cause hardening of the arteries – often called “atherosclerosis”. This in turn can lead to:

If you have a family history of kidney disease:

Be aware that your risk of developing kidney disease is much higher than average if you have anyone in your family who:

So, it is very important for you to have regular checkups to detect signs of high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, or kidney disease before they reach a dangerous stage.


For more information:

Go to the Kidney Diseases health topic, where you can:

This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

Last Reviewed: Jan 28, 2014

Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University