What Are the Stages of Kidney Disease?

Your glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is the best indicator of how well your kidneys are working. In 2002, the National Kidney Foundation published treatment guidelines that identified five stages of CKD based on declining GFR measurements. The guidelines recommend different actions based on the stage of kidney disease.

  • Increased risk of CKD. A GFR of 90 or above is considered normal. Even with a normal GFR, you may be at increased risk for developing CKD if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of kidney disease. The risk increases with age: People over 65 are more than twice as likely to develop CKD as people between the ages of 45 and 65. African Americans also have a higher risk of developing CKD.
  • Stage 1: Kidney damage with normal GFR (90 or above). Kidney damage may be detected before the GFR begins to decline. In this first stage of kidney disease, the goals of treatment are to slow the progression of CKD and reduce the risk of heart and blood vessel disease.
  • Stage 2: Kidney damage with mild decrease in GFR (60 to 89). When kidney function starts to decline, your health care provider will estimate the progression of your CKD and continue treatment to reduce the risk of other health problems.
  • Stage 3: Moderate decrease in GFR (30 to 59). When CKD has advanced to this stage, anemia and bone problems become more common. Work with your health care provider to prevent or treat these complications.
  • Stage 4: Severe reduction in GFR (15 to 29). Continue following the treatment for complications of CKD and learn as much as you can about the treatments for kidney failure. Each treatment requires preparation. If you choose hemodialysis, you will need to have a procedure to make a vein in your arm larger and stronger for repeated needle insertions. For peritoneal dialysis, you will need to have a catheter placed in your abdomen. Or you may want to ask family or friends to consider donating a kidney for transplantation.
  • Stage 5: Kidney failure (GFR less than 15). When the kidneys do not work well enough to maintain life, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

In addition to tracking your GFR, blood tests can show when substances in your blood are out of balance. If phosphorus or potassium levels start to climb, a blood test will prompt your health care provider to address these issues before they permanently affect your health.

The above information is from the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC), a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The NIDDK is part of the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Publications produced by the Clearinghouse are carefully reviewed by both NIDDK scientists and outside experts.

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