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End-Stage Kidney Disease: What You Should Know

Your body creates waste by breaking down foods and tissues you no longer need — waste that your kidneys filter from your blood. End-stage kidney disease (ESKD) is when your kidneys can no longer function.

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What is End-Stage Kidney Disease (ESKD)?

ESKD occurs when your kidneys have less than 15% function. That means the organs can no longer remove waste and excess water from your body. You’ll experience side effects like changes in skin color, decreased urine output, difficulty breathing, foamy urine, headaches, skin rashes, muscle cramps, and swelling in your feet and ankles.

ESKD is the fifth and final stage of chronic kidney disease (CKD), and it cannot be reversed. The condition is life-threatening unless you have a kidney transplant or dialysis, which can help you remain healthy and active for years.

  • 786K Americans with ESKD786KAmericans with ESKD
  • 37M Americans with chronic kidney disease71%ESKD patients undergoing dialysis
  • 131600 People in the US that started treatment for ESKD in 2018131,600People in the US that started treatment for ESKD in 2018

What Causes ESKD?

Kidney failure can occur for many reasons. Diabetes and high blood pressure damage your kidneys’ ability to filter blood. Viral infections, cysts, obesity, heavy alcohol use, kidney stones, chronic kidney infections and some autoimmune disorders can also damage the kidneys, causing them to fail.

ESKD is the last stage of chronic kidney disease. Your doctor will perform an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) test to determine how well your kidneys are filtering your blood. This test helps them establish the stage of your kidney disease. Urine tests, an ultrasound or a kidney biopsy can also help verify the cause of your kidney failure.

ESKD Treatment Options

There’s no cure for ESKD, but there are two treatment options: dialysis and kidney transplant.

Dialysis, a medical treatment, filters your blood in the same way as your kidneys. You can have dialysis in a clinic, a hospital or at your home.

Kidney transplant is the other option for ESKD management. Transplant surgery allows the doctor to place a healthy kidney from a living or deceased donor in your body.

Some people with ESKD may choose not to have dialysis or a transplant. Instead, they receive supportive care from their health providers, take medicines for symptoms, eat healthy diets and monitor their lifestyle choices.

ESKD Requires Decisions and Support

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End-stage kidney disease requires significant medical management to keep you in good health. Strive Health helps you manage kidney disease, even after an ESKD diagnosis.

We’re here to answer your questions, provide support and monitor your health outside of appointments with your doctor. Working together, we can help you thrive.

Dedicated Caregivers

Dedicated Caregivers

Kidney Heroes™, including nurse practitioners, dietitians, care coordinators and licensed clinical social workers, answer your questions and provide support outside doctor’s visits.

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Personalized Support

Wellness checks, done over the phone and virtually, keep you in contact with your support team, helping keep your kidneys working for as long as possible.

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Comprehensive Education

Comprehensive Education

Easy-to-understand educational materials help you understand the disease process and stay in control of your CKD.

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What is Life Expectancy with ESKD?

Your kidneys won’t get better after they fail. There’s no treatment to restore your kidneys to their prior function. Life expectancy depends on factors such as age, overall health and other medical conditions.

People who have dialysis or a kidney transplant usually live many years after their kidneys fail.

  • On average, people on dialysis live five to 10 years.
  • People who receive deceased donor transplants live 10 to 15 years before they need another transplant.
  • People who receive living donor transplants live 15 to 20 years before another transplant is required

If you choose not to have dialysis or a transplant, you can opt for medical management and supportive care. You’ll treat your symptoms, and your doctor will keep you as healthy as possible. However, without treatment, there’s no way to know how long you will live after your kidneys stop working.

Coping with ESKD

A kidney failure diagnosis may come as a surprise, even if you’ve known your kidneys aren’t working well. You may feel sad or scared and probably have many questions.

Reach out to family and friends for emotional support, follow your doctor’s recommendations and partner with Strive for medical management and education.

Additionally, it would help if you considered making changes to help you feel your best.

  • Keep your blood pressure at a healthy level and take medications your doctor prescribes.
  • If you have diabetes, maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
  • Go to every dialysis appointment.
  • Consider getting a kidney transplant.
  • Visit your nephrologist (kidney doctor) regularly.
  • Work with a dietitian to create a kidney-friendly meal plan.
  • Get 30 minutes of physical activity every day.

Today’s Kidney Diet Recipes

Find delicious recipes and meal ideas designed with your kidney health in mind.

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Strive Health is here for you no matter where you are in your journey. We can help you navigate CKD so you experience a better outcome. Contact us to learn more.