What is chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

Kidney disease is when your kidneys are damaged, which means they don’t work properly.1 When your kidneys don't work properly for longer than three months, it is called ‘chronic kidney disease’ (CKD).2 CKD is sometimes described as a gradual ‘loss of kidney function’ over time.2

CKD affects around 1 in 10 people around the world.3 There is no cure for CKD, but it can be managed to help improve symptoms and delay or stop the kidneys from getting worse.2

Your kidneys have several jobs, including: 

  • Removing waste products and excess fluid from the blood by transferring it into urine (pee). If you have CKD, your kidneys can’t do this properly and you may get a build-up of these waste products in your body.2
  • Telling your body when it needs to make more red blood cells. If you have CKD, your kidneys can’t do this properly and you may have fewer red blood cells in your blood. This can lead to anaemia.4


What is anaemia of chronic kidney disease?

Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body to give you energy.5 When you don’t have enough red blood cells, your body gets less oxygen than it needs.7

Having anaemia or being anaemic means that your body does not have enough healthy red blood cells.7 Anaemia affects around 1 in 5 people with CKD.6  It is worth noting that ‘anaemia’ and ‘anaemic’ are sometimes spelt ‘anemia’ and ‘anemic’.

Some people with CKD get anaemia because they cannot absorb enough iron from their diet. This is known as ‘iron deficiency’. Another reason is because their kidneys aren’t making enough of a hormone called Erythropoietin (EPO). You need both iron and EPO to make healthy red blood cells.7


More information about anaemia of CKD

Anaemia of CKD & Me is a series of short information guides for people living with CKD. The content for these has been developed by patient organisations and healthcare professionals, along with Astellas. 

If you or someone you know has CKD or anaemia of CKD, the guides can help you learn more about anaemia. The guides include tips to help discuss anaemia with a doctor or nurse, if you want to.


Anaemia of CKD & Me - Guide 1 About anaemia of CKD cover.png

About anaemia of chronic kidney disease

This guide explains what anaemia is, what causes it, and why people with CKD get it. It includes questions you can ask your doctor or nurse about anaemia of CKD.


Symptoms of anaemia and CKD

This guide describes the symptoms of CKD and the symptoms of anaemia. This will help you identify symptoms which could be due to anaemia.


Who gets anaemia of CKD

This guide explains who is affected by anaemia of CKD and why some people are at a higher risk. It includes questions to ask your doctor or nurse about whether you are likely to get anaemia.



Symptom checker for anaemia and CKD

This is a checklist of symptoms for CKD and for anaemia. It includes a list of questions to help monitor changes in your symptoms. You can use this guide to track which symptoms you have.


Getting tested for anaemia of CKD

This guide explains how anaemia of CKD is diagnosed and monitored. It includes information on different blood tests and what the results might mean.


Managing anaemia of CKD

This guide explains why it is important to manage anaemia of CKD and the goals of treatment. It includes things you can do to manage anaemia of CKD if you have it.



Anaemia of CKD and your body and mind

This guide explains the impact anaemia of CKD can have on your mind and body. It includes questions to help you identify how it might be affecting you. Included are links to additional support and advice.



Feedback from the CKD community


“I am pleased to have co-chaired the advisory board with Astellas, which led to the development of these guides in collaboration with EKPF and other organisations. We hope they will contribute to better education about anaemia as a complication of CKD, improved dialogue and shared decision making between patients and their doctors, and a better health-related quality of life for people living with, and at risk of, anaemia of CKD.”

Daniel Gallego, European Kidney Patients’ Federation


“CKD-associated anaemia is a key complication that significantly impacts the health-related quality of life of people with kidney conditions. Developing materials like this, which explain the impacts of anaemia and how to manage it, can therefore provide them with the tools to improve their quality of life and minimise their risk of anaemia.”

Juan Carlos Julian, European Kidney Patients’ Federation

Laurie Cuthbert

“Consistent patient information is critical for anyone living with or affected by anaemia of CKD, providing them with the support and reassurance that is so vital in managing chronic kidney disease. Clear and accessible information has never been more important in the management and treatment of anaemia of CKD and we are pleased to have contributed to the materials produced by Astellas.”

Laurie Cuthbert, Kidney Care UK

Bintu Bangura

“Giving patients information that is clear and easy to read and understand can help them maintain their health knowledge and take control of their anaemia of chronic kidney disease journey. These factsheets will be helpful for people living with CKD, their caregivers, and the healthcare professionals, like me, who look after them.”

Bintu Bangura, Renal Anaemia Clinical Nurse Specialist


Please note: these individuals supported the development of the materials and information on this webpage and received a consultancy fee from Astellas for this work.



The information and resources on this page were developed based on insights from an Astellas advisory board with kidney patient organisations, about the support and information needs of people living with anaemia of CKD. We’d like to thank the following individuals for attending this advisory board and providing their insights:

Please note: the above individuals each received payment to their organisation for taking part in the advisory board, in line with local guidelines. *ANED declined payment for taking part in the advisory board.


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  1. WebMD. Kidney disease. Available at Last accessed January 2023.
  2. International Society of Nephrology. Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO). Clinical practice guideline for the evaluation and management of chronic kidney disease. Kidney International Supplements 2013; 3(1). Available from: Last Accessed January 2023. 
  3. GBD Chronic Kidney Disease Collaboration. Global, regional and national burden of chronic kidney disease, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Lancet 2020; 395: 709-733
  4. International Society of Nephrology. Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO). Clinical practice guideline for anaemia in chronic kidney disease. Kidney International Supplements 2012; 2(4). Available from: Last Accessed January 2023.
  5. Kidney Care UK. Anaemia. Available at Last accessed January 2023.
  6. Dmitrieva O, de Lusignan S, Macdougall IC, et al. Association of anaemia in primary care patients with chronic kidney disease: cross sectional study of quality improvement in chronic kidney disease (QICKD) trial data. BMC Nephrology 2013; 14(24):1-9. 
  7. Palaka E et al. The impact of CKD anaemia on patients: incidence, risk factors and clinical outcomes – a systematic literature review. International Journal of Nephrology 2020;





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