The keys to diagnosing kidney disease early are to know your family history, maintain an active and healthy lifestyle, and request a blood test to check your kidney function.

You may not want to think your hereditary disposition to kidney disease is a certainty, but requesting regular tests ensures that once a decline in function is noticed, you can find the right treatment for the disease.

Why testing is so important

"In most countries, an annual check for kidney function is part of a physical for every patient," said Holly Kramer, M.D., professor of public health sciences at Loyola University Chicago and immediate past president of the National Kidney Foundation. "Unfortunately, the United States is one country that lags in this important diagnostic practice."

The biggest irony of not having the test is it could be performed with blood already drawn as part of an annual blood panel. When we consider as many as 9