African Americans and Kidney Disease

Due to high rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, Blacks and African Americans have an increased risk of developing kidney failure. 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 32% of all patients in the U.S. receiving dialysis for kidney failure, but only represent 13% 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.
  • Additionally, 12.6% percent of all African Americans over 20 years of age have diagnosed diabetes, compared with 7.1% of Caucasians.
  • 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.

Updated April 2014

Sources of Facts and Statistics:
United States Renal Data System, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Diabetes Education Program, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, United States Census Bureau, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Minority Health