Kidney Disease by Race

Kidney Disease - Asians

Asian Americans have a higher risk for kidney disease and kidney failure than white Americans. The reasons why are not fully understood. However, diabetes seems to be one reason. High blood pressure, diet, and access to healthcare may also play a role.

Diabetes is a growing problem among Asian Americans. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the risk of diabetes is 18% higher among Asian Americans than white Americans. Having diabetes can lead to kidney disease. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease and kidney failure.

The rise in diabetes among Asian Americans may be the result of eating an American or "western" diet. Studies have shown that Asians who move to the United States and adopt an American diet have higher rates of diabetes. The traditional Asian diet, which consists mostly of plants and fish, is low in fat. But the American diet is high in calories and fat. According to multiple studies, Japanese Americans who live in the United States have much higher rates of diabetes than Japanese who live in Japan. Likewise, Chinese Americans have higher rates of diabetes than Chinese who live in rural China.

Heredity and body composition may also play a role. Studies show that Asian Americans get diabetes at a much lower body weight than white Americans. In other words, the risk for diabetes rises sharply in Asian Americans with even a small amount of weight gain above the appropriate target for their ethnicity.

Lack of exercise may also be a factor. As with diet, Asian Americans may also be adopting an inactive lifestyle. In past generations, many Asian Americans had jobs that required physical labor. That is not the case today. Lack of exercise has been shown to increase a person's risk for diabetes.

Kidney Disease - Blacks

Due to high rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, Blacks and African Americans have an increased risk of developing kidney failure. Blacks and African Americans need to be aware of these risk factors and visit their doctor or clinic regularly to check their blood sugar, blood pressure, urine protein and kidney function.

Blacks and African Americans suffer from kidney failure at a significantly higher rate than Caucasians - more than 3 times higher. African Americans constitute more than 35% of all patients in the U.S. receiving dialysis for kidney failure, but only represent 13.2% of the overall U.S. population. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in African Americans. African Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as Caucasians. Approximately 4.9 million African Americans over 20 years of age are living with either diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes.

The most common type of diabetes in African Americans is type 2 diabetes. The risk factors for this type of diabetes include: family history, impaired glucose tolerance, diabetes during pregnancy, hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance, obesity and physical inactivity. African Americans with diabetes are more likely to develop complications of diabetes and to have greater disability from these complications than Caucasians. African Americans are also more likely to develop serious complications such as heart disease and strokes.

High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure among African Americans, and remains the leading cause of death due to its link with heart attacks and strokes.

Kidney Disease - Hispanics

Hispanics are at greater risk for kidney disease and kidney failure than White Americans. In fact, Hispanics are 1½ times more likely to have kidney failure compared to other Americans. In 2010, 13% of new kidney failure patients were Hispanic.

Researchers do not fully understand why Hispanics are at a higher risk for kidney disease. However, 10% of Hispanic Americans have diabetes, which is the leading cause of kidney disease. High blood pressure, diet, obesity, and access to healthcare may also play a role.

Hispanics are almost twice as likely to have diabetes as white Americans; in fact 10% of Hispanic Americans have diabetes. In older Hispanics diabetes is even more common—about 1 in 4 Hispanics over 45 years has diabetes. Having diabetes can lead to kidney disease and kidney failure, and diabetes causes kidney failure more often in Hispanics than in white Americans.

High blood pressure is also a serious problem for Hispanics. Nearly 1 in 4 Hispanics has high blood pressure and do not recognize the relationship between high blood pressure and kidney disease.

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