Understanding Kidney Disease

The kidneys are the primary functional organs of the urinary system, filtering approximately 200 quarts of blood and eliminating waste every day. The kidneys are master regulators that also ensure the body has the proper balance of water and necessary chemicals and minerals, keeping what’s needed and getting rid of what’s not. The kidneys also produce hormones, which support the function of other organs in the body, including hormones that promote the production of healthy red blood cells. The kidneys’ role in regulating the composition of blood and producing hormones affects virtually every part of the body.

Akebia’s purpose is to better the lives of people impacted by kidney disease. We extend our deep appreciation to healthcare providers and we will continue to bring awareness to the importance of kidney health. Watch here for a video sponsored by Akebia that highlights the importance of early diagnosis of chronic kidney disease.

This video is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice. Please speak to your healthcare professional for medical advice. The featured healthcare professionals are paid consultants of Akebia Therapeutics, Inc.

37 million

Americans are currently affected by CKD.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Kidney Disease in the United States, 2019. Available at: Accessed: September 3, 2019

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is characterized by the gradual loss of kidney function and is a serious and life-altering illness that is persistent, progressive, and irreversible. CKD is estimated to affect approximately 37 million adults in the U.S. It is a top-10 leading cause of death in the United States and each year takes more lives than breast cancer or prostate cancer. Having CKD also increases the chances of also having heart disease and stroke.

While CKD is a complex disease with multiple causes and effects, the two main causes are diabetes and high blood pressure. Nearly three-quarters of all CKD cases are associated with diabetes and/or high blood pressure. Approximately one in every three adults with diabetes and one in every five adults with high blood pressure also has CKD.

The progression of CKD is defined by measurement of a patient’s glomerular filtration rate, or GFR. The loss of kidney function is determined by GFR, which is measured by calculating how quickly plasma is cleared of certain substances in the body.

1 in 3

Adults with diabetes also have CKD.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Kidney Disease in the United States, 2019. Available at: Accessed: September 3, 2019.


*GFR is a measure of your kidney function. As kidney disease gets worse, GFR goes down.

Figure based on: (accessed on 10/11/19)

As progression occurs through the 5 stages of CKD, an increase in symptoms occurs, and additional health complications can develop as a result of the kidneys’ reduced ability to eliminate waste from the body and produce important hormones. When people with CKD progress to a GFR of less than 15, they have reached Stage 5 and are close to losing or have lost all kidney function. These individuals will typically need to prepare for dialysis, where a machine does the work that the kidneys typically do or prepare for a kidney transplant.


Phosphorus is the second most prevalent mineral in the body and is fundamental to supporting life. Phosphorus gives cells the energy they need to function properly and provides important structural support for bones. Phosphorus is as important to maintaining a healthy body as other minerals, including calcium and iron. Phosphate is naturally found in protein-rich foods.

Anemia in Chronic Kidney Disease

Anemia is a condition in which people don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. Anemia commonly occurs in people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) because of reduced kidney function or low levels of nutrients, such as iron.


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2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Available at: Accessed: September 3, 2019.

3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Anemia in Chronic Kidney Disease. Available at: Accessed: September 3, 2019.

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Kidney Disease in the United States, 2019. Available at: Accessed: September 3, 2019.

5. National Kidney Foundation. Kidney Disease: The Basics. Available at: Accessed: September 3, 2019.

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9. Locatelli F, Mazzaferro S, Yee J. Iron Therapy Challenges for the Treatment of Nondialysis CKD Patients. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2016;11(7):1269-1280. DOI: 10.2215/CJN.00080116.

10. Fishbane S, Pollack S, Feldman HI, Joffe MM. Iron indices in chronic kidney disease in the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey 1988-2004. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2009;4(1):57-61. DOI: 10.2215/CJN.01670408.

11. Levin A, Tonelli M, Bonventre J, et al. Global Kidney Health 2017 and beyond: a roadmap for closing gaps in care, research, and policy. Lancet 2017;390(10105):1888-1917. DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30788-2. 

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