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Chronic Kidney Disease

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is when the kidneys do not work as well as they should. The word ‘chronic’ means that the disease develops over a long time and will get worse as you get older. People may not feel symptoms of kidney disease until it is very severe. This is why it is important to know if you are at risk of CKD, and if so, to have a test at least once a year to check both your blood and urine for signs.

What can I do if I am at risk of CKD?

The top causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. We cannot cure CKD, but there are medications and lifestyle changes that can help to slow down the disease for many people. For example, keeping blood sugars under control (if you have diabetes), and having good blood pressure is especially important – it helps to protect the kidneys, but also to reduce the risk of developing heart and blood vessel disease (known as cardiovascular disease).

It is important to stop smoking, as being a non-smoker is shown to lower the risk of CKD and heart disease. The other thing that reduces risk is eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

How do healthcare professionals look after people with CKD?

Your GP can monitor you if you are at risk of CKD, by checking your blood (for signs of reduced kidney function) and urine (for signs of protein, which indicates kidney damage). In North Central London, people living with CKD can be managed by their GP alongside advice and support from the kidney specialists if needed.

Your GP may recommend certain medications to protect the kidneys and heart, and they will offer advice to stop smoking, eat healthily, and exercise. Some people will need to see a kidney specialist to help manage their CKD, so a GP will refer residents to The Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust if necessary.

How can I learn more?

You can learn more by clicking the links below.

  • The Kidney Care website.
  • The Kidney Care CKD leaflet – if you need this in another language, you can click the accessibility button (bottom left corner of the screen), select your language and all content will be translated.
  • The Royal Free have developed a useful resource for people diagnosed with chronic kidney disease called ‘How to look after your Kidneys’, you can find it here.
  • Kidney colleagues in NHS Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland have produced some fantastic videos about chronic kidney disease, which you can find here.