Who is at risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

I am Alonzo Mourning, a former
7-time NBA All Star, and I am proud
to partner with DaVita to spread
awareness about kidney disease.

While chronic kidney disease affects people of every race and age, the following minority groups in the United States have a higher risk of getting it. Kidney disease mostly affects:

  • African Americans
  • Asian Americans
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Native Americans

The United States Renal Data System (USRDS) reports that approximately 31 million Americans have chronic kidney disease (CKD). That translates to 1 in 6 American adults with kidney disease. Some people may get kidney disease because of genetics and others can get it because of other complications. The most common diseases that lead to CKD are: 

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Glomerular diseases
  • Polycystic kidney disease (PKD; an inherited condition)

African Americans and the risk of chronic kidney disease

African Americans make up about 13% of the U.S. population, but represent 32% of patients treated for kidney disease. African Americans are more likely to have both leading causes of kidney disease: diabetes and high blood pressure. 

Approximately 14% of African Americans over age 20 have diabetes and the percentage increases with age. Almost 1 in 3 African American adults has high blood pressure. Research has shown that African Americans may have a problem processing salt, which could account for the increase in blood pressure. 

Here are some statistics about African Americans and their risk of chronic kidney disease: 

  • African Americans are seven times more likely to get kidney disease compared to white Americans.
  • African Americans develop kidney disease approximately seven years younger than white Americans.
  • One of four African American women over 55 years old has diabetes.
  • One third of African Americans with diabetes don’t know they have the disease.
  • Thirty-four percent of newly documented patients with high blood pressure are African American.

Asian Americans and the risk of chronic kidney disease

Did you know that Asian Americans are twice as likely to develop kidney disease compared to non-Hispanic, white Americans? 

Approximately, 40% of Asian American adults between 40-74 years old have pre-diabetes. This is a crucial plateau, because if changes to diet and lifestyle can be successfully made, it can be reversed and the person may not develop diabetes. 

Many Asian Americans over age 23 are at risk for diabetes. Diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death for Asian Americans between 45-65 years old. The rise in diabetes among Asian Americans may be due to an adoption of the American or “western” diet. Research compared Japanese Americans who live in Hawaii and Japanese people living in Japan, showing a significant difference when it came to who is diagnosed with diabetes. The people of Japan maintain a fish and plant based diet that’s low in fat. Japanese Americans living in Hawaii were twice as likely to develop diabetes due to a diet with more fat, high amounts of calories and low amounts of fiber. 

Hispanic Americans and the risk of chronic kidney disease

Hispanic Americans are the fastest growing minority group in the U.S., representing approximately 12.5% of the population. Chronic kidney disease is a substantial problem for Hispanic Americans. Around 11% of all new chronic kidney disease patients are Hispanic.  

It’s estimated that 10% of Hispanic Americans have diabetes. A recent study by the American Heart Association showed that Hispanic American adults are twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes when compared to non-Hispanic, white Americans. Here are more statistics on the risk of chronic kidney disease in the Hispanic American community: 

  • Mexican American patients with diabetes are 4.5-6.6 times more likely to develop kidney disease than non-Hispanic white Americans.
  • About one third of Hispanic Americans with diabetes don’t know they have it.
  • Among Mexican American and Puerto Rican American adults, diabetes is twice as common as in non-Hispanic, white adults.

Native Americans and the risk of chronic kidney disease

Native Americans (including American Indians and Alaska natives) make up 1.5% of the U.S. population and they have the highest rate of diabetes and chronic kidney disease compared to other ethnic groups.  

Patients diagnosed with diabetes in Native American communities are increasing at a staggering rate. According to the International Society of Nephrology, diabetes was virtually unknown among Native Americans prior to World War II. Currently, 9% of Native Americans age 20 years and older are diabetic. Between 10-21% of people with diabetes develop chronic kidney disease, but the rate for Native Americans is increasing. Chronic kidney disease is six times higher for Native Americans than non-Native Americans. Below are more facts about the affect of kidney disease on Native Americans: 

  • Native Americans develop kidney disease approximately 6 years younger than white Americans.
  • Diabetes mortality among Native Americans is three times higher verses non-Native Americans.
  • Approximately 19% of Native Americans aged 45- 64 years old are diabetic.
  • About 40% of Navajo people over 45 years of age have diabetes.

Chronic kidney disease, diabetes and high blood pressure: silent symptoms

Not being able to recognize the symptoms can be part of the problem. Diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease may not have noticeable symptoms until the disease has progressed. It is important to keep regular doctor’s appointments, take your prescribed medications and eat a kidney-friendly diet as instructed by a dietitian. 

Helping your kidneys

Being proactive can help maintain kidney function. Here are some helpful tips to maintain a healthy life:  

  • Keep scheduled doctors appointments
  • Take prescribed medicine correctly
  • Consult your doctor before taking over the counter medication. It may interfere with prescribed medication.
  • Avoid using herbal products
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise can lower high blood pressure, which helps your heart and kidneys.
  • Consult a dietitian and follow a healthy diet that takes into consideration your kidneys and health status
  • Do not smoke
  • Limit or avoid drinking alcohol


African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans have an increased risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which are the two leading causes of chronic kidney disease. Many cases of diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease can go undiagnosed. It’s important to check your kidney function by a doctor when you are at high risk of chronic kidney disease. There are many ways to help control the complications that cause it. Being more kidney-minded can help maintain function and slow the progression of chronic kidney disease.

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