What are the causes or risk factors that can lead to CKD?


Chronic kidney disease is the result of one or more diseases or conditions that impair the function of kidneys.


The two main causes of CKD are diabetes (up to 40% in some regions) and high blood pressure (25%). [1]


Other factors such as diseases of the immune system and some inherited genetic conditions can also contribute to CKD.

  There are several diseases that can cause CKD. Some of them are:
Diabetes mellitus
A consistently high blood sugar level damages the small blood vessels of the kidney corpuscles ("diabetic nephropathy").
High blood pressure
A consistently increased pressure in the vessels can damage the blood vessels of the kidneys and the kidney tissue ("vascular hypertensive nephropathy").
This covers various diseases that are associated with inflammation of the kidney corpuscles (glomeruli), i.e. the "filtering blood vessels".
Tubulo-interstitial nephritis
This leads to inflammatory damage to the urinary tubules and the space surrounding them, secondary to certain medications or metabolic disorders.

This genetic condition leads to the formation of fluid-filled cavities (cysts) in the kidneys, which exert pressure on the rest of the kidney tissue and thus restrict kidney function.

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Risk factors for CKD include:

• A family history of kidney disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.

• Obesity.

• History of kidney stones.

• Age over 60 years old.

• Race / Ethnicity: people of African, Asian and Latin/Hispanic heritage are more likely to have kidney disease.




  1. Adapted from Findlay’s and Isles’ “Clinical Companion in Nephrology”, Springer Ed., 2015.
  2. Adapted from “Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology”, 6th edition, Elsevier Ed., 2015. 
  3. National Kidney Foundation
  4. KidneyFund.org
  5. Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) CKD Work Group. KDIGO 2012 Clinical Practice Guideline for the Evaluation and Management of Chronic Kidney Disease. Kidney inter., Suppl. 2013; 3: 1–150.
  6. Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) Lipid Work Group. KDIGO Clinical Practice Guideline for Lipid Management in Chronic Kidney Disease. Kidney inter., Suppl. 2013; 3: 259–305.
  7. “Diabetic Nephropathy”, American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Care 2002 Jan; 25 (suppl 1): s85-s89.
  8. Global, regional, and national burden of chronic kidney disease, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study, 2017.


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