Risk Factors and Causes

Risk Factors

While it is possible for anyone to develop chronic kidney disease (CKD), certain groups of people have a higher risk of developing CKD. You may have an increased risk for kidney disease if you:

  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have a family member who has chronic kidney disease
  • Are an African American, Hispanic American, Asians and Pacific Islander or American Indian.
  • Are over the age of 60

If you are in one of these groups or think you may have an increased risk for kidney disease, ask your doctor about getting tested.


Diseases and conditions that cause chronic kidney disease include:

  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Glomerulonephritis (gloe-mer-u-low-nuh-FRY-tis), an inflammation of the kidney’s filtering units (glomeruli)
  • Interstitial nephritis (in-tur-STISH-ul nuh-FRY-tis), an inflammation of the kidney’s tubules and surrounding structures
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract, from conditions such as enlarged prostate, kidney stones and some cancers
  • Vesicoureteral (ves-ih-koe-yoo-REE-tur-ul) reflux, a condition that causes urine to back up into your kidneys
  • Recurrent kidney infection, also called pyelonephritis (pie-uh-low-nuh-FRY-tis)
  • Abnormal kidney structure
  • Other rare diseases and birth defects.

Most chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the United States has one of two causes: type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure—or both at the same time. These two health problems cause 70% of all kidney failure in the United States. Knowing what caused your CKD may help your doctor to treat it. In some cases, blood or imaging tests can find the causes. In other cases, a biopsy of a small tissue sample is needed.