Risk Factors for End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop ESRD with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing ESRD. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors for ESRD include the following:

  • Age—Risk of ESRD increases with age.
  • Gender—Men are more likely than women to develop ESRD.
  • Race—African-Americans have higher rates of ESRD than people of other races.
  • Diabetes—Diabetes is the biggest risk factor for developing ESRD. One-third of the people who develop ESRD have diabetes.
  • High blood pressure—High blood pressure is the second most common cause of ESRD.
  • Education—People with a lower educational background have a higher risk of developing ESRD.
  • Weight—Overweight individuals have a higher risk of ESRD.
  • Proteinuria—History of protein in the urine is a risk factor for ESRD.
  • Low hemoglobin —Individuals with a history of low hemoglobin have a higher risk of ESRD.
  • Nocturia—Individuals who frequently have to get up at night to urinate have a greater chance of ESRD.
  • Hyperuricemia—Higher blood uric acid levels increase risk of ESRD.
  • Genetics—Genetic factors have been identified, which either increase the risk of developing chronic renal failure or quicken the progression of this disease.
  • Smoking—Smoking has been linked to the progression of renal disease among diabetic and hypertensive patients.
  • High cholesterol —Various lipid disorders are associated with the development of and progression to chronic renal failure.
  • Recreational drugs —Opioids and cocaine have been linked to an increased risk for end-stage renal disease.
  • Glomerulonephritis —This disease damages the glomeruli, which are the filtering units in the kidney. It is the third leading cause of ESRD.
  • Drug use—Overuse of over-the-counter pain medication or abuse of illegal drugs increases your risk of ESRD.
  • These conditions also affect kidney functioning:


Chronic kidney disease (CKD) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated August 23, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
What I need to know about kidney failure and how it's treated. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated September 2013. Accessed November 17, 2016.
Last reviewed November 2016 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 5/20/2015

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