Your Race May Be a Risk Factor for Kidney Failure

Get your cholesterol checked. You've heard the advice before, and it's usually recommended to measure heart health. But a simple blood test won't tell you if you have a dangerous variation of something called apolipoprotein.

Health professionals call this APOL1. And if you have a genetic variation of this, your risk for developing kidney disease and requiring dialysis treatments is higher than some people. In fact, in a recent study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, researchers found that race was a key genetic factor for identifying people with a variant of APOL1 that can lead to kidney disease.

Researchers followed about 15,000 people for 25 years that included whites and African Americans. And they found that African Americans with the APOL1 genetic variant had a much higher risk of developing kidney problems than whites. They also found that African Americans were more likely to develop other health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

In some cases, APOL1 appears to be a key risk factor for kidney disease, says John Hopkins University lead researcher Dr. Morgan Grams. But it wasn't the only factor for developing kidney disease and other health risks, which means lifestyle interventions can help.

If you're on dialysis or have kidney problems, genetics may be to blame. You might not be able to do anything about your genetics, but you can make healthy lifestyle choices and improve your diet to manage your condition.

For people who depend on dialysis treatments, controlling sodium, potassium, and phosphorus is critically important to protect your health. Eating a moderate amount of protein will help, too. But it isn't easy to reinvent your diet when your doctor tells you it's time for dialysis treatments to do the work your kidneys can't.

Fortunately, we've prepared 40-plus meals with you in mind. Our Dialysis-Friendly meals will help you eat right to manage your condition, and enjoy home-cooked meals made from fresh ingredients.