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Almost 800,000 Americans are living with end-stage kidney disease

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At least 783,594 adults in the United States are living with end-stage kidney disease, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It found that, from 2000 to 2019, new cases of end-stage disease increased by 42 percent and the number of people living with this stage of the disease (called prevalent cases) roughly doubled.

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The kidneys — two fist-sized organs in your back, just below your rib cage — filter your blood, removing excess fluids and waste. Other diseases, conditions or injuries — most often diabetes or hypertension — can also damage the kidneys, leading to a gradual loss of kidney function, known as chronic kidney disease. Over time, this can advance to kidney failure or end-stage disease, meaning the kidneys can no longer work as they should. As a result, dangerous levels of fluids and wastes can build up in the body. The only available treatments are dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Dialysis most often involves connecting to an artificial kidney machine to do the filtering (called hemodialysis), but another type of dialysis (peritoneal dialysis) uses the person’s abdominal lining to filter the blood inside the body. As for kidney transplants, nearly 23,000 were done in the United States in 2020, and as of March, nearly 90,000 people were on a waiting list for a kidney transplant.

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About 1 in 7 U.S. adults (about 37 million people) have chronic kidney disease, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Most people, as many as 90 percent, the agency says, however, are not aware they have kidney disease when it is in its early stages as symptoms often do not develop until the disease becomes more advanced.

This article is part of The Post’s “Big Number” series, which takes a brief look at the statistical aspect of health issues. Additional information and relevant research are available through the hyperlinks.

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