Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a relatively common disorder in which one or both kidneys are damaged. CKD affects approximately 12 million people in this country. At Mount Sinai our medical experts are highly experienced in treating the range of kidney diseases and related conditions. The Chronic Kidney Disease Program also promotes patient education. Understanding the role of the kidneys and recognizing potential problems is the best way to guard against disease and alert the patient to changes that should prompt a visit to his or her physician.
Chronic Kidney Disease Frequently Asked Questions
- Who should be checked for kidney disease?
- What causes kidney disease?
- Is kidney disease a serious condition?
- How does a patient know if he or she has kidney disease?
- What do the kidneys do?
Who should be checked for kidney disease?
People with any of the following conditions should ask their physician to assess their risk for kidney disease.
- Diabetes or family history of diabetes
- High blood pressure or a family history of high blood pressure
- Family history of kidney disease
- Advanced age
Testing for kidney disease is simple. Patients undergo a thorough physical examination and have a blood and urine test.
What causes kidney disease?
Kidney disease frequently occurs as a complication of longstanding diabetes or high blood pressure. Together these diseases account for more than half of all cases of chronic kidney disease in the United States. Other causes include inflammation within the kidney or genetic factors.
Is kidney disease a serious condition?
Yes, because it can:
- Increase the risk of heart disease
- Cause high blood pressure
- Cause abnormalities in the level of minerals in the blood
- Cause fluid to accumulate in the body
- Cause anemia (abnormally low red blood cell count)
How does a patient know if he or she has kidney disease?
Recent studies show that more than half of all people with kidney disease in its earliest, most treatable stage don’t know that they have it. That’s why screening is so important. In addition, identifying and treating patients early can prevent disease-related complications.
Someone may have kidney disease without any symptoms. However, as the disease gets worse, a patient might experience:
- Loss of appetite
- Itchy skin
- Difficulty sleeping
- Swollen ankles
What do the kidneys do?
While most people are aware that the kidneys produce urine, these fist-sized organs actually perform numerous other functions that are essential to good health. The kidneys:
- Regulate waste products in the blood
- Regulate body fluids and mineral levels in the blood
- Remove drugs and toxins
- Help control blood pressure
- Help make red blood cells
- Help keep bones healthy
Chronic kidney disease is treatable and can involve multiple approaches, including:
- Controlling high blood pressure
- Controlling blood sugar
- Following a special diet
- Treating complications such as anemia and bone disease
- Taking steps to guard against heart disease
Proper treatment can prevent major complications. Patients can be in control of kidney disease, rather than allowing kidney disease to control their lives.
The Chronic Kidney Disease Program at Mount Sinai offers the most accurate methods of diagnosis available, state-of-the-art treatment, and access to clinical trials that evaluate new therapies, all under the care of expert physicians skilled in patient care, medical education and medical science. We provide:
- Screening for chronic kidney disease
- Advice for all types of kidney disease
- Preventive therapies such as nutrition and lifestyle modification
- Preventive therapies to promote heart health
- Blood pressure management
- Access to state-of-the-art medical care
- National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases
- National Kidney Foundation
- National Kidney Disease Education Program