Kidney Disease and the Heart: Importance of African American Participation in Clinical Trials

Learn about the link between chronic kidney disease (CKD) and heart disease, and how to lower your risk. Find out why clinical trial diversity is so important and learn more about an ongoing study.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) occurs when your kidneys are damaged over time, resulting in kidney dysfunction. When the kidneys are damaged, the blood in your body is not adequately filtered. This can cause a buildup of waste in the body and other health problems.

CKD impacts over 37 million U.S. adults, but African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and Alaska Natives are at higher risk and more likely to develop the condition. This is likely due to higher rates of some chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure that exist in these communities. Additional research is needed to better understand the exact cause of these disparities.

Your heart and kidneys may appear far apart but are intricately linked through your blood vessels. Any condition that affects one of them can affect the other too. There is a direct link between heart disease and kidney disease; having one greatly increases your risk of having the other. Understanding the relationship between these two conditions is essential to managing them.

The Link Between CKD and Heart Disease

Chronic kidney disease can cause or worsen heart disease. Both conditions share similar risk factors, including age, excess weight, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Heart disease includes several heart conditions, with coronary artery disease being the most common. Other conditions include heart attack, arrhythmias, and heart failure.

Ways to Lower Your Risk

Your care team can help you manage kidney disease effectively to minimize complications, slow down disease progression, and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Here are practical steps you can take to lower your risk:

  • Follow up with your healthcare provider regularly. Regular medical checkups promote early detection of kidney and heart disease. Your provider may monitor your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight helps lower your risk of other health conditions.
  • Adopt a healthy diet. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and fiber helps keep your protein and potassium levels stable and your kidneys working well. You should work closely with your healthcare team to assist you with planning healthy meals.
  • Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day such as going for a brisk walk around your neighborhood.

Why You Should Consider a Clinical Trial

The progression of kidney disease can lead to kidney failure. More than 30% of people with kidney failure are Black. Alarmingly, less than 10% of participants in clinical research represent the Black community. Historically, clinical trials do not appropriately represent the minority populations who are most at risk of being negatively impacted. The bottom line: clinical trials need diverse participants.

Clinical trial diversity is important to help researchers better understand how different groups may react or respond to treatment. You can make a difference. Participating in a clinical research study allows you to be actively involved in your healthcare, have access to investigational medication, and help others by progressing medical research. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are interested in clinical research to determine if it is a good option for you.

There is an ongoing study testing whether an investigational medication can reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, and death from cardiovascular causes. Click here to learn more.

This article is sponsored by Novo Nordisk.


  1. Cardiovascular Disease in Chronic Kidney Disease | Circulation
  2. What Is Chronic Kidney Disease? – NIDDK.
  3. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): Practice Essentials, Pathophysiology, Etiology
  4. Chronic Kidney Disease and Cardiovascular Disease: Is there Any Relationship? – PMC
  5. The Surprising Link Between Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes, and Heart Disease.
  6. Coronary Artery Disease – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf
  7. Heart Disease & Kidney Disease – NIDDK
  8. Diversity in Clinical Trials – American Kidney Fund


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