The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs the size of a fist, situated just below the ribcage. Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys are damaged and cannot perform their functions—functions that are essential to the general health of the body. Kidney disease statistics prove that the disease usually gets worse over time, and that the kidneys may even stop working completely.
A lot of different things can cause damage to the kidneys, ranging from actual physiological diseases to external and human factors. At the onset, kidney disease can be managed and treated, but if it is allowed to fester, it could get to the point where irreversible damage is done, and a kidney transplant is required.
Keep reading to find out salient information about the kidneys, the diseases that typically affect them, and the causes of those diseases. But first, let us take a look at some interesting facts and figures about kidney disease:
Top 10 Kidney Disease Statistics and Facts
- More than 850 million people globally have kidney disease.
- Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the most common type of kidney disease.
- Hypertension and diabetes are the leading causes of kidney disease.
- An estimated 5 to 10 million people die from kidney disease yearly.
- In the United States, 15% of adults were estimated to have CKD in 2019.
- Women develop CKD more often than men.
- Two million people are currently receiving treatment for kidney failure worldwide.
- Men develop kidney failure more than women on average.
- The average life expectancy of kidney transplants is 8 to 20 years.
- Kidney cancer is twice as common in men as it is in women.
General Kidney Disease Statistics and Facts
1. More than 850 million people globally have kidney disease.
Kidney disease is often described as a hidden epidemic by experts from all over the world. Statistics on kidney disease show that twice the number of people with diabetes (422 million) and more than 20 times the number of those suffering from cancer (42 million) have kidney disease worldwide.
2. The National Kidney Month and World Kidney Day are observed in March every year.
One of the interesting kidney fun facts is that March 11 is set aside to raise awareness about the burden of global kidney diseases in the endeavor to help us achieve better kidney health for humans everywhere.
It aims to support the different types of initiatives meant to lessen the burden of kidney diseases worldwide, especially preventive interventions.
3. African Americans and Hispanics are at a higher risk for kidney disease.
According to available Hispanic, American Indian, and African American kidney disease statistics, these groups typically have higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure, which makes them more prone to kidney disease.
They also have higher rates of developing end-stage kidney disease, with their risk roughly three times higher than that recorded in Caucasians.
4. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the most common kind of kidney disease.
Chronic kidney disease is a long-term condition that gets worse over time. It also shows little or no symptoms until it’s already at a very advanced stage.
Most of the available chronic kidney disease facts point to this type of kidney disease being gradual and occurring in stages, with the worst one, the end-stage kidney disease, also called kidney failure.
5. Hypertension and diabetes are the leading causes of kidney disease.
When hypertension and diabetes are controlled well medically, kidney disease can be easily slowed down or even totally prevented. However, most people with diabetes and hypertension do not have them well-controlled, which ultimately leads to renal complications and kidney disease.
Problems with kidneys can also be caused by glomerulonephritis, which is the third leading cause of this disease in the US, according to recent kidney disease stats. Finally, kidney disease can also be caused by urinary tract infections, polycystic kidney disease, and kidney stones.
6. Heart disease is the foremost cause of death among individuals with kidney disease.
Facts about the kidney demonstrate that as much as heart disease and hypertension can affect the kidneys, kidney disease can also significantly affect the heart. In other words, individuals with kidney disease are at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Furthermore, a 2015 study estimated that some 18 million years of life that were lost to heart disease were directly related to progressively worsening kidney diseases.
7. An estimated 5 to 10 million people die from kidney disease yearly.
This includes both people who die from kidney failure, which is an estimated 1.2 million, and those who die from acute kidney injury, estimated to be around 1.7 million on an annual level. The kidney disease death rate is slightly higher for male patients than for female.
Cardiovascular disease contributes to more than half of the deaths among people with kidney disease.
Chronic Kidney Disease Statistics and Facts
8. 10% of the global population is affected by chronic kidney disease.
At least one in every ten adults worldwide has chronic kidney disease, with most of them not knowing that they have it. According to chronic kidney disease statistics, worldwide, close to 20 million individuals need to be placed on dialysis or have a kidney transplant.
What’s more, most of those affected by CKD do not have access to affordable treatment.
9. Treatments of patients with chronic kidney disease cost more than $81 billion in 2018.
This roughly comes down to $23,000 per one beneficiary of Medicare in the United States with CKD. Most of these costs go towards the dialysis treatments, which are very expensive.
For the sake of comparison, in the same year, the total treatment costs for patients with end-stage renal disease amounted to $36.6 billion.
10. In the United States, 15% of adults were estimated to have CKD in 2019.
That is to say, about 37 million adults in the United States had CKD, according to available chronic kidney disease statistics for 2019, with an estimated 9 out of 10 not even knowing they have it.
About 50% of people with poor kidney function as a result of CKD who should be on dialysis are not.
11. CKD is most common in people aged 65 years or older.
Individuals who are 65 years old and older have a prevalence of chronic kidney disease of about 38%. Available kidney disease facts show that this is much higher than in other age groups, with the people aged 45 to 64 years having a prevalence of only 12.4%, and people aged 18 to 44 years, 6%.
12. CKD was the ninth leading cause of death in the US in 2018.
Kidney diseases caused 1.8% of all deaths in the US in 2018, according to chronic kidney disease statistics for 2018. Heart diseases were the leading cause with 23.1% of all deaths in the same year.
Mississippi had the highest rate of kidney disease deaths in 2018, with 22.2 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. The next two states with the highest rates were Louisiana and West Virginia with 21 and 19.3 deaths per 100,000 people respectively. Vermont had the lowest rate of kidney disease deaths according to 2018 kidney disease statistics by state (2.2 per 100,000).
13. Women develop CKD more often than men in the general population.
The prevalence of CKD in women is 14.3%, while the percentage of men suffering from this disease is 12.4%. Chronic kidney disease facts also show that in people of ages 65 to 74, globally, one in every five men and one in every four women suffer from CKD.
14. On the global level, the cost of treatment of severe CKD is actually lower than that of treating the milder forms of the disease.
According to chronic kidney disease statistics worldwide for 2019, using the US as an example, treatment of CKD before it advances to the severe end-stage renal disease costs significantly more than end-stage renal disease treatment.
To illustrate, in 2019, $84 billion was used by the Medicare services for chronic kidney disease, while the total cost for Medicare treatments for end-stage kidney disease was $36 billion.
Kidney Failure Statistics and Facts
15. About two million people are currently receiving treatment for kidney failure worldwide.
The treatment options mostly come down to the choice between dialysis or a kidney transplant, and are currently unfortunately available to just 10% of the people worldwide who need them to survive. The majority of these two million people are treated in just five developed countries—the United States, Japan, Brazil, Italy, and Germany.
Renal failure statistics indicate that only 20% of people receive treatment in more than 100 developing countries which make up more than half of the world’s population.
16. In 2017, about 750,000 Americans had kidney failure.
Approximately 500,000 of these patients received dialysis three or more times per week to substitute for normal kidney functions. Going by kidney failure facts, 3 in 4 new cases of kidney failure in the US are brought on by hypertension and diabetes.
In the same year, 125,000 people started receiving end-stage kidney disease treatment in the US.
17. Polycystic kidney disease causes 2 out of every 100 cases of kidney failure in the United States every year.
Polycystic kidney disease is a genetically inherited disease that causes cysts to grow inside the kidneys. It causes approximately 2% of kidney failure cases in the US annually, according to polycystic kidney disease statistics for the US.
It is the most common genetic cause of renal failure in adults worldwide and accounts for about 6% to 8% of people receiving dialysis in America.
18. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of kidney failure and slows down the progression of kidney disease.
Smokers generally tend to reach end-stage renal disease and renal failure faster than non-smokers. These facts about kidney failure are especially noticeable in men, as they are typically heavier smokers than women.
19. Men develop end-stage kidney failure more often than women, on average.
Although more women generally suffer from chronic kidney disease than men, chronic kidney disease facts show that being male is a risk factor in how fast kidney failure is reached.
Women suffer from kidney failure less commonly than men, and the reasons for this are not perfectly understood. Some claim this is due to the hormone level differences (i.e., testosterone and estrogen), while others believe that men simply lead unhealthier lifestyles in general, which contributes to the faster progression of the disease.
20. Polycystic kidney disease and glomerulonephritis are the foremost causes of kidney failure in the under 18 age group.
While most types of glomerulonephritis can be cured, when it comes to polycystic kidney disease, all the facts claim otherwise, so it must be well managed in this particular age group.
This genetic disorder can also lead to urinary tract infections, headaches, increased blood pressure, and a number of other issues. Because of its hereditary nature, parents are encouraged to get their kids screened as soon as possible if they themselves or the children’s other first-degree relatives are already suffering from polycystic kidney disease.
Dialysis Statistics and Facts
21. About 500,000 people were on dialysis in the US in 2019.
There are two basic types of dialysis—hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. During hemodialysis, blood is usually pumped out of the body through a machine that cleans it and sends it back into the body.
Peritoneal dialysis involves cleaning the blood through the abdominal lining every day with a special type of fluid.
22. More than 240 people on dialysis die every day.
Dialysis facts show that an alarming number of people receiving dialysis die every day, as dialysis is only a stand-in for the kidneys and not a definitive or curative treatment.
Cardiovascular issues have been shown to be one of the major causes of death of patients on dialysis.
23. Average life expectancy on dialysis is 5 to 10 years.
Even though many patients on dialysis have lived for 20 to 30 years after starting the treatment, the average life expectancy for dialysis patients is less than 10 years, according to kidney dialysis facts.
About 60.3% of dialysis patients in the US died in less than 5 years, 19% died in 5 to 10 years, and about 20.7% were alive for 10 years and more.
24. In the United States, 350 new people start receiving dialysis every 24 hours.
As new kidney failure cases are diagnosed, those who are not eligible for a transplant or can’t wait for one usually have to decide between the two available dialysis types—hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.
Since the available dialysis stats show significant differences in the cost, convenience, and what’s most important, mortality rates of patients on these two treatments, this decision should only be made after extensive research and consultations with medical professionals.
Kidney Transplant Statistics and Facts
25. The first successful kidney transplant was done in 1954.
(The Fact Site)
The first-ever kidney transplant was done by Yuri Voronoy in Ukraine in 1933, but unfortunately, it was not successful.
However, in 1954, Joseph E. Murray performed the first successful kidney transplant at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. He and his team transferred a kidney from one twin to the other.
26. About 100,000 kidney transplants occurred worldwide in 2018.
America had the highest number of kidney transplants done (36,541), according to the available kidney transplant facts from 2018. The next highest were Europe and the Western Pacific with 27,917 and 18,505 transplants respectively.
Africa was on the other extreme, with just 705 kidney transplants recorded in the whole continent.
27. More than 100,000 people are currently awaiting kidney transplants in the US alone.
About 13 people die each day while awaiting a transplant. A lot of patients are taking dialysis and waiting for their turn to get a kidney, according to kidney transplant waiting list statistics.
Over 3,000 new patients are added to this waiting list every month, which comes down to one new patient being added every 14 minutes.
28. In 2019, Spain had the highest rate of kidney transplants in Europe.
There were 73.8 kidney transplants done per one million people in Spain in 2019. This went up from 71.4 per million in 2018. Netherlands and France shared second place in 2019, with 55.6 per million.
29. Average life expectancy of kidney transplants is 8 to 20 years.
Patients who undergo a successful kidney transplant tend to live longer than those who are on dialysis. Kidneys from living donors function for 12 to 20 years on average, according to kidney transplant life expectancy statistics, while kidneys from deceased donors function for 8 to 12 years.
Younger adults gain the most benefits from kidney transplants, but even seniors are likely to gain an average of four additional years more than if they remained on dialysis.
30. 11,108 kidneys were recovered from donors in the US in 2020.
Kidneys were the most commonly recovered organs from donors, going by kidney donation statistics for 2020. Almost twice as many of them were recovered as there were livers—6,432, which was the second most commonly recovered organ in 2020.
The kidney can come from deceased or living donors, as long as it remains viable by having blood still flowing through it at the time of recovery.
Kidney Stone Statistics and Facts
31. The largest kidney stone ever weighed an incredible 1.1 kilograms.
(The Fact Site)
Kidney stones usually develop in the kidneys and pass harmlessly through the urinary tract because they are typically very small. However, large kidney stones can get lodged and block the urinary tract, causing several urinary symptoms, including intense pain.
Interestingly, facts about kidney stones state that not all stones move through the tract and that some actually stay in the kidney.
32. About 1 in 10 people will have a kidney stone at some point in their lives.
More than 500,000 people get emergency treatment for kidney stones annually. Kidney disease facts show that the peak age of onset of kidney stones is between 20 to 50 years of age.
Kidney stones are mostly caused by not drinking enough water, not exercising enough, exercising too much, obesity, or an unhealthy diet. There is also a familial connection, as 25% of kidney stones occur in individuals whose families have kidney stone histories.
33. The risk of kidney stones is higher in men than in women.
According to research on interesting kidney stones facts, the risk of kidney stones in women is about 9%, while it’s 11% in men. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity are all likely to increase the risk of kidney stones.
Kidney stones are also found in children as young as five years old.
34. Developing one kidney stone puts an individual at approximately 50% risk of developing another.
Another one of the interesting facts about kidney stones is that having developed one kidney stone increases the risk of developing another one within five to seven years. This could occur even after having received treatment for kidney stones.
Kidney stones have also been shown to increase the risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
Kidney Cancer Facts and Statistics
35. The average age of diagnosis for kidney cancer is 64 years.
Most patients are diagnosed with kidney cancer between the ages of 65 and 74, making it a disease that primarily targets the elderly demographic. Kidney cancer very rarely affects people under 45.
However, there is a type of kidney cancer that mostly affects children called Wilms’ tumor. This type of cancer accounts for about 5% of all cancers in children.
36. Kidney cancer is twice as common in men than in women.
Facts about kidney cancer report that 45,520 men and 28,230 women were estimated to have kidney cancer in 2020.
The exact reasons for this are not known yet, but some possible factors could be the higher smoking rates in men and more exposure to carcinogenic chemicals at places of work.
37. About 76,080 cases of kidney cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2021 in the US.
According to recent kidney cancer statistics, these new diagnoses include all types of renal pelvis and kidney cancers. About 13,780 people are expected to die from kidney cancer in 2021, with 4,990 being women and 8,790 being men.
38. In 2017, 65,251 new cases of kidney cancer were reported in the United States.
The age-adjusted rate of new renal pelvis and kidney cancer cases in the US in 2017 was about 17 in every 100,000 individuals, according to kidney disease statistics for the United States for 2017.
The death rate in the same year was 4 per 100,000 people, with 13,959 people reported to have died from kidney and renal pelvis cancers.
What causes kidney disease?
There are a lot of causes of kidney problems. This can range from physical trauma to infections, kidney cysts (acquired or genetic), the flow of urine back into the kidneys from the bladder, and hereditary causes. The kidneys can also be severely damaged by high blood pressure, diabetes, or the abuse of prescription medication and illegal drugs.
What is kidney disease?
Kidney disease is a condition that leaves the kidneys damaged and unable to perform their function of filtering toxic wastes and excess minerals out of the body, allowing it to produce urine optimally.
Kidney disease affects the body’s capacity to clean the blood and control blood pressure. It also affects the production of erythrocytes (red blood cells) and bone metabolism (vitamin D metabolism).
What is chronic kidney disease?
Chronic kidney disease is the gradual, irreversible loss of kidney function that progressively worsens over time. It is the most common type of kidney disease and when it reaches a very advanced stage, harmful levels of waste and fluid build-up in the body can lead to disastrous effects.
How to prevent kidney disease?
Preventing kidney disease is all about making healthy lifestyle choices when it comes to diet, physical activity, and management of comorbidities.
Those suffering from diabetes or high blood pressure should ensure they are managing these conditions as well as possible, while everyone can lower their chances of developing kidney disease by staying away from tobacco and alcohol, and making sure they’re getting enough exercise and eating a healthy diet.
What are the stages of kidney disease?
There are five stages of kidney disease starting from the mildest form in stage 1, to total kidney failure in stage 5. These stages are based on calculated estimated glomerular filtration rates (eGFR). Stage 1 has eGFR of 90 or more; stage 2, 60 to 89; stage 3, 30 to 59; stage 4, 15 to 29; and in stage 5, eGFR is less than 15.
What are the symptoms of kidney disease?
Unfortunately, individuals with kidney disease tend not to have any symptoms till the later stages, when the kidneys are already close to failure, or massive amounts of protein are already present in the urine.
Possible symptoms of kidney disease include fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, body swelling (especially ankles and wrists), face swelling, foamy or colored urine, and excessive urination.
How fast does chronic kidney disease progress?
While chronic kidney disease does not progress at the same rate for every patient, its pace is usually slow and gradual. Blood and urine tests help to ascertain the speed of the progression of the disease. Poorly controlled diabetes and high blood pressure are just some of the factors that can cause a faster than usual progression of chronic kidney disease.
How does diabetes cause kidney disease?
Diabetes causes damage to the kidneys by affecting their blood vessels. Very high blood glucose causes the tiny blood vessels called capillaries in the filtering units of the kidney to become narrow and blocked.
This leads to a lack of blood supply to these filtering units (nephrons), causing the passage of a protein called albumin into the urine, which sets off the whole cascade of events that ultimately lead to kidney disease.
What not to eat when you have kidney disease?
For those suffering from kidney disease, it is advisable to limit the ingestion of foods that contain high levels of major minerals like sodium, potassium, and phosphorus. The diseased kidney finds it harder to filter these minerals out of the system, so foods containing them should be limited.
This includes salty and canned foods, avocados, whole wheat bread, bananas, dairy products, oranges, processed meat, pickles, tomatoes, and potatoes.
What percentage of kidney function is considered kidney failure?
When an individual’s kidney function drops below 15% of the normal, they are said to have kidney failure. Symptoms would show up significantly then, and the available modes of treatment would be limited to dialysis or getting a kidney transplant.
Kidney disease is a common problem that plagues people worldwide. One of its most dangerous aspects is that it doesn’t show a lot of symptoms until it gets quite bad, which makes it a serious public health issue.
As these kidney disease statistics clearly illustrate, because of these difficulties with detecting the disease and the lack of satisfactory treatments for its advanced stages, raising awareness about its common symptoms and prevention methods is of utmost importance in combating the disease, both on the global and on the individual level.