In chronic renal failure (CRF), the kidney function decreases gradually but progressively over time. This condition can lead to end-stage renal disease in some patients and is mostly caused by underlying chronic kidney disease (CKD). Some forms of CRF run in families. Symptoms of CRF usually only develop when 60 to 70% of kidney function is already lost.
What is chronic renal failure?
In CRF, excess waste products build up, resulting in the so-called uremic syndrome, irrespective of the initial cause or injury. Excess fluid may cause or worsen hypertension, and chemical abnormalities can lead to renal bone disease. The loss of kidney cells causes a decrease in the production of crucial hormones and enzymes. One of the most consistent findings in a patient with CRF is insufficient red blood cells or anaemia.
Reviewed and revised by Professor A M Meyers, MBBCh, FCP (SA), Cert Nephrology (SA), FRCP (London), Donald Gordon Medical Centre, Klerksdorp Hospital, and National Kidney Foundation of South Africa, March 2015.
Originally written by Dr K. Coetzee, reviewed by Dr R. Moosa, Tygerberg Academic Hospital