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Your kidneys remove waste and extra water from your blood. With kidney disease, the kidneys don't work as well as they should — they could even stop working. People with kidney disease often do not have any symptoms. Most people don't know there is a problem until right before their kidneys fail. If your kidneys fail, you will need to have regular dialysis or a kidney transplant.
African-Americans are nearly four times as likely as whites to have kidney failure. High blood pressure and diabetes are the leading causes of kidney failure in African-Americans. Diabetes and high blood pressure can damage your kidneys over time, without your knowing it.
If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family member with kidney failure, ask your doctor to test your blood and urine for early signs of kidney disease. You can lower your risk for kidney disease by controlling your blood pressure and blood sugar.
Content last updated: May 18, 2010.