Kidney Damage: Who Is At Extra Risk

More than one million people have chronic kidney damage. This has not yet been discovered in part of this. This can be serious, because when the kidneys work less well, your blood is poisoned. And that is bad for other organs. Some people are at extra risk for kidney damage. Who belong to that risk group?

Kidney damage can be demonstrated by means of minuscule traces of protein in the urine. Kidney damage can also be expressed in a reduced kidney function, then the kidneys are already doing worse. More than 1.7 million Dutch people (10 percent of the population) are troubled by it. In many cases the kidney damage remains undetected. Complaints often only occur when the kidney function is only 30 percent. 4 percent of the Dutch population – some 680,000 people – have chronic kidney damage without knowing it. Light kidney damage does not have to be bad, but it is important to detect the hidden kidney damage in time. Then you can take measures to prevent further problems as much as possible.

More than 50,000 Dutch people suffer from severe kidney damage with serious consequences. Essential processes are then disrupted in the body, and other complaints can arise such as cardiovascular problems. No less than 170,000 Dutch people have a greatly increased risk of kidney failure and death as a result of cardiovascular disease.

Poisoned blood

When our kidneys work less well, the blood is ‘poisoned’. That is bad for heart and blood vessels. We only notice that our kidneys are no longer performing their purifying function if only 30 percent (or less) of the kidney function is left. Only then will complaints arise. In further deterioration of renal function, kidney dialysis or even kidney transplantation threatens .

Some people are more at risk of kidney damage than others. People with diabetes or high blood pressure for example. Overweight, salty food and old age also increase the risk of kidney damage.


People with diabetes are more likely to develop kidney damage than people without diabetes. A quarter of people with diabetes also have kidney damage. This is why diabetes is regularly monitored by means of blood and urine tests.

Type 2 diabetes (formerly known as ‘old-age diabetes’) is often only discovered when it has been around for some time. It is becoming more common, even in young people. Sometimes minor kidney damage is present. Because obesity plays an important role in the development of this form of diabetes, by losing weight the diabetes can diminish, or even disappear altogether. This also reduces the risk of kidney damage.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure and kidney damage also have a lot to do with each other. But four in ten Dutch people are not aware that high blood pressure is one of the most important causes for the development of chronic kidney damage. This is shown by a survey that Eye Of The Eagle conducted among more than 500  people in 2011. An estimated half a million people between the ages of 20 and 65 have high blood pressure. A number that grows rapidly as the age rises: more than two-fifths of the over-50s suffer from high blood pressure and thus an increased risk of kidney damage.

Sieve bodies

We have two kidneys. In each kidney there is a half to one million sieve bodies. Such a sieve body is a ball of fine blood vessels. There the blood is filtered for purification. In case of high blood pressure, these sieve bodies get less blood. They also constrict and damage the blood vessels. As a result, they stop gradually – but permanently – with purification and renal function deteriorates irreparably.


A quarter of people with high blood pressure have permanent (chronic) kidney damage. When you suffer from high blood pressure, it is therefore important to have your kidneys checked annually. Because if you are in time, kidney damage can often be limited. That control can simply be done by the GP. He or she looks at the amount of protein in your urine and does blood tests to determine kidney function. If there is chronic kidney damage, the doctor may decide to prescribe (other) blood pressure lowering drugs.

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