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Kidney Failure

Kidney Failure

Kidney failure (also called end-stage renal disease) occurs when kidney damage is so severe that a person needs dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life. Kidney failure often occurs after kidney damage has been present for 10 years or more.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of kidney failure in the United States.

Kidney failure can be measured by how well the kidneys are able to filter wastes from the blood. This is called glomerular filtration rate, or GFR. Kidney failure usually occurs when the GFR falls to below 15% of what is expected in a person with normal kidney function.

Kidney failure is treated with dialysis, which helps filter waste products from the blood when the kidneys are not working properly, or with kidney transplant.

Last Revised: September 15, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Mitchell H. Rosner, MD - Nephrology

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