How to Slow Down the Progression of Chronic Kidney Disease

September 28,2023 |
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Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects roughly 37 million Americans nationwide. Due to its severity, learning how to slow the progression of chronic kidney disease is important. Although individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk, CKD can affect any adult regardless of their underlying condition. To help you better understand this disease, we’ve put together a guide on CKD, its causes, and how to slow its progression over time.


What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a progressive and often silent condition that’s characterized by the gradual loss of kidney function over time. This means that your kidneys slowly reduce their efficiency at filtering waste and excess fluid from the blood. A decline in kidney function can also cause issues regulating electrolytes and producing hormones controlling blood pressure and red blood cell production. Eventually, CKD can result in kidney failure.


Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease

CKD typically advances through five stages, known as G1 to G5. Each of these stages represents a different level of kidney dysfunction. In the early stages (G1-G2), kidney damage may be present, but symptoms are usually absent or mild. This is why CKD is considered a silent condition, as you often don’t become aware of it until it’s progressed. However, catching CKD during the earliest stages is the best way to help increase longevity and reduce more serious kidney-related complications. Seeing your doctor regularly can help you catch any signs of protein in the urine or other indications of kidney impairment.

As the disease progresses, stages G3 and G4 involve moderate to severe kidney impairment, which leads to noticeable symptoms like fatigue, swelling, and changes in urination patterns. If CKD is caught during these stages, it’s still possible to slow its progression, and in doing so, you can delay more serious outcomes.

Stage G5, also known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD), signifies nearly total kidney failure, where individuals require dialysis or a kidney transplant.


What Causes CKD?

Several things can increase your risk of developing chronic kidney disease. However, three of the most common causes of CKD include high blood pressure, diabetes, and medication use.


High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is one cause of chronic kidney disease. Over time, chronic high blood pressure puts strain on the tiny arteries that are within the kidneys. This can cause them to narrow and constrict, leaving them damaged or too weak to function. The more blood vessels that become damaged, the greater the degree of CKD.


In addition to high blood pressure, diabetes is another leading cause of CKD. In fact, diabetes is the primary cause of chronic kidney disease worldwide, and about one in three adults with diabetes will eventually develop CKD. Diabetes management can help, but make sure that you work with your doctor for regular kidney tests to catch any signs of an issue early.

Medication Use

Medications are essential for managing certain conditions and reducing pain or inflammation, but long-term use can put a lot of strain on your kidneys. The top 10 medications linked to kidney damage include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen
  • Diuretics
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Iodinated radiocontrast
  • Vancomycin
  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics
  • HIV medications
  • Antiviral medications
  • Zoledronic acid
  • Calcineurin inhibitors


How to Slow the Progression of Kidney Disease

Unfortunately, chronic kidney disease is a progressive condition that cannot be reversed. However, there are some things you can do to help slow its progression, thus improving quality of life and longevity. Eventually, CKD may result in the need for a transplant or renal replacement therapy. Still, taking the following precautions can help decrease the likelihood of that happening within the next few years. Some of the most important things to do to slow the progression of kidney disease include the following.


Monitor Blood Glucose Levels

Living with diabetes means you’ll need to monitor blood glucose levels anyway. However, the better you manage your blood sugar levels, the less likely CKD becomes more aggressive. Diabetes can worsen kidney problems, so always stay diligent about checking your blood sugar and taking any diabetes medications as needed.

Eat a Kidney-Friendly Diet

Your kidneys function their best when they’re well cared for. This means reducing your intake of things that can cause kidney strain and focusing on foods for kidney health. One of the most important aspects of a kidney-friendly diet is eating adequate protein and avoiding excessive intake. This can help reduce proteinuria (a.k.a. albuminuria), which shows that your kidneys aren’t properly filtering your blood. An adequate daily protein intake is considered 0.8 g/kg body weight. It’s also important to choose heart-healthy foods, as this can support a strong circulatory system.

As the disease progresses, your doctor may advise you to reduce foods with dietary phosphorus and potassium, as late-stage CKD patients may not be able to remove these minerals from the bloodstream. Working with a dietician with experience in CKD management is the most effective way to help slow the progression of the disease through nutritional interventions.

Reduce Sodium Intake

Another key element of slowing the progression of CKD is to reduce your sodium intake. Doing so can help control blood pressure and reduce overall kidney strain. Ideally, you’ll want to limit your sodium intake to 2,300 mg/day, but your doctor may recommend a lower amount based on the stage of kidney disease. Just remember that electrolytes are still important, so you’ll want to prioritize high-quality foods containing beneficial sodium rather than simple table salt.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is terrible for you, especially when you’re living with diabetes and/or chronic kidney disease. Smoking restricts blood vessels, increases blood pressure and leads to several other complications. Cigarette smoking is also associated with an increased progression of chronic kidney disease and abnormal urine output, so it’s just not worth it. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about cessation tools.

Exercise Regularly

Getting enough exercise is also beneficial. Ideally, you should get about 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day or 150 minutes of moderate-intense exercise per week. A mixture of strength training and aerobic activity is encouraged for the biggest impact on kidney disease progression. This can also help with blood sugar control to manage diabetes and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, so it’s worth making the effort.

Lower Blood Pressure

Another effective way to help slow the progression of chronic kidney disease is to control your blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure low and within a healthy range can help reduce the strain on the kidneys, making the filtration process easier and more effective. You can make several lifestyle changes to help decrease blood pressure but always talk to your doctor before starting anything new. Some of the most effective changes include quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, decreasing sodium, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight. Meditation may also positively impact blood pressure, as it can help reduce stress hormones.

Work with Your Doctor

Working with your doctor is essential for slowing the progression of kidney disease. For one, they can help monitor your progress and determine whether your lifestyle changes are making an impact or if other measures need to be taken. They also provide a source of information, so you can get all of your important questions answered according to your specific health metrics.

Consider Medications

Finally, it’s important that you know exactly how medications are affecting you. Some over-the-counter supplements and medications can cause a lot of unnecessary strain on your kidneys, especially for individuals struggling with chronic kidney disease. Always talk to your doctor about medication use, and never begin a new medication without clearing it with your doctor.

Alternatively, some medications may be available to help slow the progression of CKD, but you’ll need to talk to your doctor to see if they’re right for you. For example, ACE inhibitors/ARBs can be used for blood pressure control and may help reduce instances of albuminuria.


Being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease can be scary, but there are things you can do to help slow its progression. The sooner it’s caught, the sooner you can act, which is why it’s important to see your doctor regularly—especially when living with diabetes. To help you manage your diabetes and reduce your risk of complications, Byram Healthcare has a range of products for diabetes management. We also offer diabetes educational support and other resources to help you stay healthy and reduce your risk of complications.