Understanding Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a progressive condition that affects over 10% of the world’s population, which is more than 800 million people. In CKD, the kidneys are damaged and unable to filter blood like they used to. The condition is called ‘chronic’ because it develops slowly over a long period of time. Two primary causes of chronic kidney disease are– diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension). These are responsible for nearly two-thirds of CKD cases. Besides these, other causes of kidney disease include infections (pyelonephritis), some drugs, autoimmune diseases, polycystic kidney disease, etc.1,2

Early detection and treatment can help prevent chronic kidney disease from getting worse and leading to kidney failure.2

There are five stages of CKD, but only some progress from stage 1 to stage 5. The treatment and management of chronic kidney disease depends upon its stage. The primary treatment for chronic kidney disease includes lifestyle modifications, medications and renal replacement therapies i.e., dialysis and transplants. An individual with kidney failure will require dialysis or a kidney transplant to live.3

What is kidney replacement therapy4

Renal Replacement Therapy (RRT) includes procedures that replace the non-endocrine function of the kidney in patients with renal failure. The main forms of RRT are dialysis and kidney transplantation.4


In some individuals with CKD, the kidneys may eventually stop working, in which case, the function of the kidneys is usually replaced by an external machine through a process called dialysis. Dialysis is a method wherein the waste products and excess fluids from the blood are removed. There are two types of dialysis: haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.5

Kidney transplant

The most effective treatment for advanced kidney disease is kidney transplant, in which a healthy donor kidney is placed in the recipient’s body so that the recipient’s body can function normally. The biggest concern with kidney transplants today is the shortage of donors, and one may have to wait for years for a donor kidney.6

Kidney transplantation is considered to be the best treatment for people with chronic kidney disease as it offers a better quality of life and survival than that observed in people on dialysis. Many candidates for kidney transplants are put on the transplant waiting list, while they undergo dialysis.