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Chronic Kidney Disease

Tens of millions of American suffer chronically from compromised kidney function. Many are unaware that they have a problem until the loss of kidney function progresses,and many more still are unaware that they are at risk for such kidney failure. Reduced kidney function over a long period brings many secondary health risks. With lost capacity, kidneys struggle to manage the body’s fluid and mineral balance, red-blood cell production, waste removal from the blood stream and other essential aspects of health.

The loss of function in kidneys is usually gradual but permanent. Chronic kidney disease can affect almost every other body system.

Individuals with diabetes, hypertension and family history of kidney disease are especially at risk for long-term kidney problems.*

Individuals who have poor kidney function are also more likely to have a range of conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular conditions, anemia and problems with bone metabolism and nutrition. Patients with reduced kidney function must work with their physicians to manage the condition to try to prevent it from worsening and to avoid these related health problems.

One goal is to help these individuals avoid the need for dialysis. Though this treatment is a highly successful, life-giving form of care, it is expensive and time-consuming — and the need for it and dependence on it has a permanent impact on an individual’s life.

As kidney failure is generally not reversible, doctors endeavor to address the two primary causative factors that are treatable: diabetes and high blood pressure. Specialists grade kidney failure on a 1-5 scale, with stage 1 describing patients who often have few if any symptoms. Stage 5 patients have kidney failure that is ideally treated by kidney transplantation.

Virtua nephrologists provide screening for kidney function that includes:
  • checking blood pressure;
  • testing for protein in the urine and for creatinine in the blood;
  • and calculating kidney filtration rate.

Virtua nephrologists seek to establish and manage a long-term program of medical care and monitoring for patients, to help them safeguard and optimize remaining kidney function, with the goal of maintaining their independence and wellness. Patients needing dialysis can take advantage of the program’s highly experienced and extensive dialysis services, the staff of which works in close collaboration with referring nephrologists and other physicians.

*Certain inflammatory, inherited, congenital, immune, infectious, or toxic conditions or diseases can also damage the kidney’s filtering ability, as can kidney stones, tumors or other growths. Lupus, sickle cell anemia, cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C, congestive heart failure and lead exposure are all conditions that increase risk of kidney disease.


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