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Your kidneys remove waste and extra water from your blood. With kidney disease, the kidneys don't work as well as they should — they could even stop working. People with kidney disease often do not have any symptoms. Most people don't know there is a problem until right before their kidneys fail. If your kidneys fail, you will need to have regular dialysis or a kidney transplant.
African-Americans are nearly four times as likely as whites to have kidney failure. High blood pressure and diabetes are the leading causes of kidney failure in African-Americans. Diabetes and high blood pressure can damage your kidneys over time, without your knowing it.
If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family member with kidney failure, ask your doctor to test your blood and urine for early signs of kidney disease. You can lower your risk for kidney disease by controlling your blood pressure and blood sugar.
Explore other publications and websites
African Americans and Kidney Disease Fact Sheet — This fact sheet highlights key facts about the impact of kidney disease on African-Americans and includes statistics related to kidney disease in the United States.
African-Americans and Kidney Disease (Copyright © African American Community Health Advisory Committee) — This fact sheet explains the relationship between high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney failure, and how they affect the African-American community. Warning signs of kidney problems and information on lupus are also discussed.
Financial Help for Treatment of Kidney Failure — This fact sheet briefly describes the federal government's insurance program that covers much of the cost of dialysis treatments and kidney transplantation expenses. It also lists additional sources of financial help and explains the role of the nephrology social worker.
Kidney Failure: Choosing a Treatment That's Right for You — This booklet provides a broad overview of the treatment options for a person with kidney failure. It introduces hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and kidney transplantation with a general description of each method and a list of pros and cons. It concludes with a list of resources for more information.
Kidney Failure: Eat Right to Feel Right on Hemodialysis — This publication explains which vitamins to take and which foods to avoid for someone on hemodialysis. It explains hemodialysis-related terms, such as "dry weight," and offers a checklist to use when preparing to speak with a dietitian.
Make Health a Family Reunion Affair — This guide provides information on the connection between diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. It is intended to provide families with several approaches they can take to openly discuss these health issues with each other.
Ten Facts About African Americans and Kidney Disease (Copyright © National Kidney Foundation) — This fact sheet provides important information about the risk of kidney disease in African-Americans.
Treatment Methods for Kidney Failure: Hemodialysis — This booklet details the procedures and equipment involved in hemodialysis. It explains vascular access and dietary issues, and briefly describes some of the complications of kidney failure. It also includes a list of resources for additional information.
Treatment Methods for Kidney Failure: Peritoneal Dialysis — This booklet describes the procedures and supplies required for peritoneal dialysis (PD). It explains the differences between ambulatory and automated PD and gives instructions on how to avoid problems that can develop.
Treatment Methods for Kidney Failure: Transplantation — This booklet gives a step-by-step account of the transplant process from the initial medical evaluation to surgery, recovery, and finally maintenance with antirejection medicines. It also covers issues of organ donation and matching.
What African Americans Need To Know: Diabetes and High Blood Pressure — Make the Kidney Connection — This fact sheet informs African-Americans about how diabetes and high blood pressure can damage the kidneys and lead to kidney failure.
Connect with other organizations
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, NIDDK, NIH, HHS
National Kidney Foundation
Content last updated May 18, 2010.
Resources last updated May 18, 2010.
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