Kidney damage, chronic kidney damage, is incredibly common in Australia. It’s much more common than you think, and as you get older, you’re more likely to have sub-performing kidneys, and it’s called chronic kidney disease. It comes by CKD, or it comes by various names.

If your kidneys are not working, first of all, if the blood tests which show up your kidney function are starting to show abnormality, you’ve already lost a lot of your kidney function.

So let’s start with prevention. The best way to prevent chronic kidney disease is to keep your blood pressure as low as possible during life, and that means regularly having your blood pressure checked. It means getting lots of moderate exercise, ’cause that keeps your blood pressure down. It means not drinking too much because alcohol raises your blood pressure.

And it means if you have got high blood pressure, you treat it, ’cause high blood pressure batters your kidneys, and causes kidney damage. If you’ve got kidney damage, you’re much more likely to get coronary heart disease, and if you get coronary heart disease, you’re more likely to do worse. So it’s just a battering of the kidneys where they just get damaged.

There are causes of kidney failure earlier in life, which are auto-immune diseases, or other diseases where they don’t quite know how it occurs, and where the immune system gets involved and attacks the kidneys and causes kidney failure.

But the commonest one is just ageing, and battering, and chronic disease, which leads to chronic kidney damage. And the worst condition of all for this is diabetes. So a very high proportion of people with chronic kidney damage have blood sugars that are too high, they damage their kidneys, and can end up in frank kidney failure, and it’s a real problem.

Dr Norman Swan, Physician and Journalist

Last Reviewed: 16/09/2020

myDr

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