CKD – chronic kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD), also known as chronic renal disease, is a condition that occurs when your kidneys don’t work as well as they should to filter waste, toxins and excess fluid from your body. In this section you can read more about the risk factors for developing CKD, what are typical symptoms, how your doctor can detect it and its different disease stages.

What is chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

Worldwide, 8 to 16 percent of the population is suffering from CKD.1 CKD is characterised by a progressive loss of kidney function over time. The end stage (also called chronic renal failure, end-stage kidney failure, kidney failure or established renal kidney failure), may develop over many years or within only a few months. At this stage, you will require either dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD)

Kidney disease is usually caused by other pre-existing health problems, which put strain on the kidneys. Commonly, it is a combination of different problems. The most common causes of CKD include diabetes, chronic hypertension (chronic high blood pressure) and glomerulonephritis (kidney infection).

CKD is more common amongst the elderly (> 50 years with variations worldwide). Although older people are more likely to suffer from chronic kidney disease, it can be developed at any age.

You may have an increased risk for developing CKD if you:

  • also suffer from diabetes
  • have high blood pressure
  • have a family member with chronic kidney disease

Diagnosis of CKD

CKD is normally detected through routine blood and urine tests by a doctor. Three simple tests are recommended to test for CKD:

  • blood pressure measurement
  • checking for protein or albumin in the urine (marker for kidney damage)
  • glomerular filtration rate (GFR)

Read more about how your doctor can detect CKD.

Stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD)

The chronic impairment of the kidneys has been defined as stages of CKD based on the GFR value2. Patients with CKD stages 1-3 are do in general not experience any symptoms.

Endocrine/metabolic derangements or disturbances in the water or electrolyte balance become visible only in later stages (GFR <30 mL/min/1.73 m²). Learn more about the definition of the different stages.

To increase therapy effectiveness, it is crucial to diagnose CKD as soon as possible, as well as to monitor the progression over time. A reliable diagnosis can only be done by an expert (nephrologist).

Symptoms in early stage are often very vague like feeling tired or having less energy as ususal, having trouble concentrating, weight loss, swollen feet and ankles. Read more about the signs here. If you belong to the high-risk groups and experience any of those symptoms you should reach out to your doctor and have your kidneys checked.

CKD stages
Stages of chronic kidney disease according to KDIGO Guidelines[2,3].


  1. Jha V, Garcia-Garcia G, Iseki K et al. Chronic kidney disease: global dimension and perspectives. Lancet 2013; 382: 260-72.
  2. Hill NR, Fataboa ST, Oke JL et al. Global Prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease – A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS One.2016, 11(7)