Climate Change and the Emergent Epidemic of CKD from Heat Stress in Rural Communities: The Case for Heat Stress Nephropathy

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2016 Aug 8;11(8):1472-1483. doi: 10.2215/CJN.13841215. Epub 2016 May 5.


Climate change has led to significant rise of 0.8°C-0.9°C in global mean temperature over the last century and has been linked with significant increases in the frequency and severity of heat waves (extreme heat events). Climate change has also been increasingly connected to detrimental human health. One of the consequences of climate-related extreme heat exposure is dehydration and volume loss, leading to acute mortality from exacerbations of pre-existing chronic disease, as well as from outright heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Recent studies have also shown that recurrent heat exposure with physical exertion and inadequate hydration can lead to CKD that is distinct from that caused by diabetes, hypertension, or GN. Epidemics of CKD consistent with heat stress nephropathy are now occurring across the world. Here, we describe this disease, discuss the locations where it appears to be manifesting, link it with increasing temperatures, and discuss ongoing attempts to prevent the disease. Heat stress nephropathy may represent one of the first epidemics due to global warming. Government, industry, and health policy makers in the impacted regions should place greater emphasis on occupational and community interventions.

Keywords: Chronic; Climate; Climate Change; Dehydration; Health Policy; Heat Exhaustion; Hot Temperature; Physical Exertion; Renal Insufficiency; Rural Population; chronic kidney disease.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Central America / epidemiology
  • Climate Change*
  • Dehydration / etiology
  • Epidemics*
  • Extreme Heat / adverse effects*
  • Heat Stress Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Heat Stress Disorders / etiology
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • North America / epidemiology
  • Physical Exertion
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / etiology
  • South America / epidemiology
  • Sri Lanka / epidemiology