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Types of Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD)

Often, the development of kidney disease is gradual and kidney function worsens over a number of years. If you permanently lose more than one third of your kidney function, it is called ‘chronic kidney disease’ (CKD). This can lead to kidney failure.

You are more at risk of chronic kidney disease if you:

  • have diabetes 
  • have high blood pressure 
  • are obese
  • are over 60 years of age
  • have a family history of end-stage kidney disease or hereditary kidney disease in a first or second degree relative
  • have established heart problems (heart failure or a past heart attack) or have had a stroke
  • smoke 
  • have a history of acute kidney injury
  • are Maori or Pacific Islander
  • are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander

The risk of CKD resulting in kidney failure depends on your level of kidney damage. If kidney disease is found early, medication, combined with diet and lifestyle changes, can prolong the life of your kidneys. 

If you have one or more of the risk factors for developing CKD, it is important to ask your doctor to check your kidney function.

Kidney Failure

Kidney failure, also known as end-stage kidney disease, occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to adequately remove waste from your blood and control the level of fluid in the body. Kidney failure can happen suddenly or gradually.

You can lose up to 90 per cent of kidney function before feeling sick. In many cases, the signs of disease aren’t noticed until the kidneys are close to failure. 

People with kidney failure can have the following care:

  • Non-dialysis supportive care
  • Dialysis (renal replacement therapy)
  • Kidney transplant.
Last updated: 29 March 2022