Overview: Chronic kidney disease (CKD)

  1. Dr.Schär Institute
  2. Overview: Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
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Chronic kidney disease (CKD), also called chronic kidney failure, describes the gradual and irreversible loss of kidney function over a period of more than 3 months.

The most important causes for developing CKD are diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure. Both causes are becoming more common in the general population. This disorder is becoming an epidemic with significant impact on quality of life and costs for healthcare.


CKD is reaching epidemic proportions, affecting, in all its five stages, approximately 10 % of the adult population worldwide. One out of three adults is at risk for developing CKD due to risk factors, such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension.

Kidney functions

The main task of the kidneys is to filter the blood and eliminate metabolites and toxins through the excretion of  urine. Other important functions include: the maintenance of water-, electrolyte-, and acid-base balance, blood pressure control, as well as the formation, activation, and deactivation of important hormones, proteins and vitamins.

The kidneys fulfill vital functions:

  • eliminate wastes, toxins and excess fluids via urine
  • retain important nutrients
  • maintain the overall fluid balance
  • regulate mineral metabolism
  • create hormones to help produce red blood cells
  • promote bone health
  • regulate blood pressure

Global facts

  • 10% of the population worldwide is affected by chronic kidney disease (CKD), and millions die each year because they do not have access to affordable treatment.

  • In the US, treatment of chronic kidney disease is roughly $48 billion per year.

  • Over 2 million people worldwide currently receive treatment with dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive, yet this number may only represent 10% of people who actually need treatment to live.