The role of the primary care physician in managing early stages of chronic kidney disease

Postgrad Med. 2011 Sep;123(5):177-85. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2011.09.2473.


Recent increases in obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, along with the aging of the US population, are driving a dramatic rise in the prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Despite this increase, the majority of Americans with early-stage CKD remain unaware of their disease. Primary care physicians are at the forefront of efforts for early recognition of CKD and management to control its progression. Patients with CKD should be referred to nephrologists no later than the point at which their estimated glomerular filtration rate reaches 30 mL/min. Nephrology evaluation at this point is essential to facilitate timely preparation for care of end-stage renal disease through preemptive transplantation or planned transition to dialysis. In addition to stringent control of underlying hypertension and/or diabetes, mineral metabolic parameters (serum parathyroid hormone, phosphorus, calcium, and bicarbonate) in patients with advancing CKD should be managed closely to avoid adverse effects on the cardiovascular and skeletal systems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Disease Progression
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / etiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / prevention & control
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Physician's Role
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Risk Factors