Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease

The main causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD) are:

  • Diabetes (High Blood Sugar)
  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

These two cause approximately 70% of CKD.



  • High blood sugar causes long term damage to the kidneys.
  • Controlling blood sugar can help prevent or slow down the progression of kidney disease.
  • It is important for anyone who has diabetes to measure your blood sugar level routinely at home. The target range is 70 – 130.
  • Hemoglobin A1c is a blood test (ordered by your doctor) that is another way of measuring the control of your blood sugar for the past 3 months.The target range is under 7. This test should be done regularly if you have diabetes.


  • High blood pressure can damage the kidneys.
  • Controlling blood pressure can help slow down the progression of CKD.
  • The general target blood pressure for people with CKD is 130/80. Check with your doctor for your individual goal.

Other causes of CKD include:

  • Damage to filters in the kidney (glomerulonephritis), inherited kidney diseases (such as polycystic kidney disease), or chronic infections (such as untreated strep).
  • Some prescribed and over-the-counter medications can be poisonous to your kidneys if taken regularly over a long period of time or misused. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about the medication you are taking.

Who Else is at Risk for Getting Chronic Kidney Disease?

  • Kidney disease runs in families. If your family has a history of chronic kidney disease or dialysis, then you and your family members are encouraged to get screened for CKD.
  • Older people are at risk for CKD, particularly those 65 and older.
  • If you are African American, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander or Native American you are likely at an increased risk for CKD.