Chronic Kidney Disease


Chronic Kidney Disease may sound like a frightening condition to have. The word “chronic” just means “ongoing”, but it makes it sound as if it is worse than it is.

As you get older, the kidneys don’t quite function as well as they did when you were younger, and so we keep regular checks on them to make sure the function is not deteriorating quicker than we would expect.

So when you get an invitation to come for a check-up for “Chronic Kidney disease”, it’s just a simple check-up with the Practice Sister which involves taking your blood pressure, taking some blood samples, checking a urine sample, taking your weight and checking your medications.

If the kidneys are not quite as good as we would expect for your age, you will be started on medication to help protect the kidney function and slow down the rate of decline.

It would only be if the kidney deteriorated quite badly that we would have to refer you to the hospital for further investigation and treatment, so hopefully that would be a rare occasion.

You should be called for your check up every 6 months, either by text or letter, but if you notice time has passed and you haven’t had your review when you expected, please contact us and we will give you an appointment.

Check out this website for help and advice:

Chronic Kidney Disease – Commonly asked questions

What do my kidneys do?

Your kidneys are very important and do several jobs for your body.  All the blood in your body filtered through you kidneys which pull out any extra fluid.  The extra fluid becomes urine.  Any waste that has been produced either by muscle use or from digestion of your food  is removed from  your body in the urine.  The kidneys also help to:

  • maintain your blood pressure
  • maintain the right level of chemicals in your body (for example, sodium, potassium, chloride and bicarbonate).

This allows your heart and muscles to function properly;

  • produce a form of vitamin D which your body uses to maintain healthy bones; and
  • produce a substance called erythropoietin which tells your bone marrow when to make red blood cells.

When the kidneys are not able to filter the blood properly for at least a few months, doctors call this chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Am I at risk of having chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

You may be likely to develop CKD if you:

  • smoke
  • have high blood pressure (hypertension):
  • have vascular disease (e.g. angina, stroke, peripheral vascular disease):
  • are diabetic;
  • are over 65; or

There are many causes of kidney disease, including inherited conditions.

How does my doctor know I have CKD?

There are several tests that your doctor may do to check how well your kidneys are functioning.  Your doctor may check your urine for any signs of blood or protein or take a blood test to check the level of creatinine  (a chemical which is a breakdown product of muscle activity) in your blood.  The results of the creatinine test are used to work out your estimated

Glomerular Fitration Rate (eGFR).  This tells your doctor how well you blood is being filtered through your kidneys.  Your doctor may also send you to have an X-ray or ultrasound scan of your kidneys.

Will my kidneys fail?

 Most patients with CKD respond well to treatment and continue to live normal lives without noticing they have a problem with their kidneys.  A very, very small percentage of patients will remain unable to filter their blood and will need dialysis or a kidney transplant.  It is important to control your blood pressure since high blood pressure can make CKD worse and can lead to problems with your vascular system and  your heart which in turn can reduce function.

Will I get better?

Having a chronic disease means that it won’t go away.  However, there are treatments available to try to keep it from getting worse and there are things that you can do to control the effect of your CKD.

What are the treatments?

Regular checkups are very important to check you kidney function and your blood pressure.  You will probably be given medication for you blood pressure and may need medication to lower your cholesterol.  However, every patient will be different and your treatment will depend on how well your kidneys are working and any other medical problems you may have.

What can I do to help myself?

Living a healthy lifestyle is the most important thing that you can do to reduce the risk of your CKD getting worse.  You should:

  • reduce your salt intake;
  • eat a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products, whole grains, poultry, fish and is lower in red meats and sugar;
  • take regular exercise; and
  • stop smoking.

Be sure to take the medications that your doctor prescribes for you.  If you have any questions or problems with your treatment, make sure you talk these over with your doctor as alternatives which suit you better may be available.

If you want to take any over-the-counter medications or any alternatives or herbal medicines, be sure to check with your doctor or with the pharmacist first because some of these may be harmful to you kidneys.

Further patient information:

British Kidney Patients Association

National Kidney Federation

Kidney Research UK

Renal Patient View

( Ref: SIGN Guidelines)