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What causes chronic kidney disease( CKD)?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is not a diagnosis in itself, it is just a term that covers any long-lasting problem with the structure of the kidney or how it works.

To be able to treat CKD effectively it is important that healthcare professionals ask the question “What has caused this person to have CKD?”

Many of the diseases that cause CKD can be treated, but we urgently need more research into those that cannot currently be effectively managed.

  • CKD is more common in older people, although many will have no problems with their kidneys.
  • CKD is much more common in people who have had high blood pressure, or other problems with their blood circulation for a long time. These conditions affect how well blood reaches all parts of the kidney. This type of kidney damage is the main reason that CKD is more common in older age.
  • There is a risk that, over time, CKD will get worse so many treatments are designed to stop this progression.
  • Some types of treatment benefit nearly all patients with CKD. For instance, drugs to bring down raised blood pressure reduce the risk of strokes, heart failure and heart attacks, and may also slow down the progression of CKD.  Another type of drug (called ‘SGLT2 inhibitors’), originally developed for treatment of type 2 diabetes, are also beneficial for many people with CKD.
  • Hundreds of different diseases can cause CKD. These include;
    • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes (type 2 diabetes is the commonest single cause of CKD)
    • Genetic kidney disease passed down through families e.g. polycystic kidney disease
    • Problems with kidney development existing from birth e.g. reflux nephropathy, renal dysplasia,
    • Kidney inflammation (called glomerulonephritis, of which there are many types)
    • Blood vessel inflammation (vasculitis)
    • Other types of inflammation involving the kidneys (e.g. systemic lupus, )
    • Problems with the urinary drainage system (e.g. caused by kidney stones)
    • Problems with bladder emptying (e.g. due to benign prostate disease or prostate cancer)
    • Kidney damage caused by crystals being deposited in the kidneys complicating small bowel and pancreas disease, as well as after some types of surgery for patients who are very overweight
    • Bone marrow disorders producing abnormal proteins that deposit in the kidneys
    • Severe weight issues
    • Liver disorders
    • Adverse effects of prescription drugs
    • Adverse effects of “street” and over the counter drugs particularly ibuprofen (Nurofen) which is a type of anti inflammatory called an NSAID.

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