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Chronic kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease, also called chronic kidney failure, describes the gradual loss of kidney function. If the failure worsens, an elevated amount of waste can build to high levels in the blood.

Complications such as high blood pressure, anemia, weak bones, malnourishment and nerve damage can develop, as well as increasing the risk of having heart and blood vessel disease. These problems may happen slowly over a long period of time. Chronic kidney disease may be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure and other disorders (glomerulonephritis, polycystic kidney disease, kidney malformations, kidney obstructions and constant urinary infections). Early detection and treatment can often keep chronic kidney disease from getting worse.


Most people may not have any severe symptoms until their kidney disease is advanced. However, you may notice that you:

  • feel more tired and have less energy
  • have trouble concentrating
  • have a poor appetite
  • have trouble sleeping
  • have muscle cramping at night
  • have swollen feet and ankles
  • have puffiness around your eyes, especially in the morning
  • have dry, itchy skin
  • need to urinate more often, especially at night


Any person can suffer from chronic kidney disease at any age. However, some persons have a greater tendency to develop kidney insufficiency than others, especially if they have diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of kidney disease.

It is necessary to prevent and treat those disorders than can provoke kidney damage in order to avoid or delay the development of chronic kidney disease.

  • Controlling blood pressure with adequate medication and healthy habits (balanced diet, no salt, regular physical exercise and no smoking) is fundamental, both to prevent the development of renal pathologies as well as to delay the progression of the illness once it is established
  • Diabetic patients should monitor their blood sugar levels and blood pressure as diabetes is the principal cause of chronic kidney failure


CKD risk factors that can be modified:

  • Proteinuria*
  • Elevated blood pressure*
  • Anemia**
  • Poorly controlled glycemia*
  • Smoking**
  • Obesity**
  • Insulin resistance**
  • Dyslipidemia**
  • Metabolic factors (Uric acid, calcium (Ca) and phosphorous (P) balance) **
  • Avoid the use of nephrotoxic drugs


* Therapeutic treatment of these factors has proven to reduce the rate of progression of CKD

** There is no clear evidence that these corrections can stop CDK although the benefits on cardiovascular risks have been demonstrated at other levels.


Medicines that have not been prescribed by a doctor should not be used as they can cause kidney damage. To keep kidneys healthy, it is important to follow a balanced diet, drink between 1 ½ to 2 liters of water daily, reduce alcohol consumption and get regular physical exercise.

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