Ontario Renal Network | Reseau Renal de L'Ontario

Kidney Disease

Human Kidney

What do the kidneys do?
  • Act largely as a filtering system for the body
  • Regulate the composition of the blood
  • Keep the volume of water and salt in the body constant
  • Remove wastes from the body
  • Regulate blood pressure
  • Stimulate the making of red blood cells
  • Maintain calcium, phosphate and Vitamin D levels, to preserve bone health

As Ontario’s population continues to grow and age, and the prevalence of diabetes and vascular disease increases, the prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) is also projected to increase.

Chronic Kidney Disease

A diagnosis of chronic kidney disease (CKD) means the kidneys have not been working properly to eliminate wastes and excess fluids from the body for at least 3 months. Often, this is caused by diseases that attack and damage the kidneys' filters (nephrons). CKD can progress for as short as several months to as long as 25–50 years. (Read medical definition) Hypertension is a risk factor for progression of existing chronic kidney disease.

Who is at risk for chronic kidney disease?

  • People with diabetes mellitus
  • People with family history of chronic kidney disease
  • People older than 60 years
  • People of certain racial or ethnic status
  • Members of certain ethnic groups are also at high risk because of the greater incidence of diabetes. These include people of First Nations, Inuit and Métis, Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander, African/Afro-Caribbean and Hispanic origin

What causes CKD?

CKD is caused by many different disease processes. Some involve only the kidney, while some involve the kidney as part of another systemic disease. CKD also can result from an obstruction or injury, and from drugs, such as cancer chemotherapies, anti-rejection drugs, and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs.

Primary Kidney Diseases

  • glomerulonephritis/glomerulosclerosis,
  • interstitial nephritis
  • renal-limited vasculitis

Other Conditions

  • Diabetes, types 1 and 2
  • Lupus and other collagen vascular diseases
  • Vascular diseases
  • Infections (Hepatitis B and C, HIV, post-streptococcal disease, e-coli)
  • Cancers (multiple myeloma, lymphoma, leukemia, breast and bowel tumours)
  • Hereditary conditions, such as Alport’s Syndrome and Adult Polycystic Kidney Disease (APKD)

  • 1 The Kidney Foundation of Canada. What is Kidney Disease? http://www.kidney.ca/Page.aspx?pid=320 Accessed August 3, 2011. 4:15 p.m.
  • 2 Post, T, G Curhan, J Forman, B Rose, 2010. Overview of the Management of Chronic Kidney Disease in Adults. UpToDate . Last updated October 8, 2010.