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Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease

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

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

These two diseases cause about 70% of CKD.


  • High blood sugar causes long term damage to the kidneys.
  • Control your blood sugar to prevent or slow down damage to your kidneys.
  • 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. It 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.


  • Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, can damage the kidneys.
  • Control your blood pressure to 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 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 hurt your kidneys if taken in large doses or regularly over a long time. 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 CKD or dialysis, 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.