FSGS: Prioritizing Your Kidney Health

FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis) is a rare kidney condition that is the leading cause of nephrotic syndrome (a kidney disorder) amongst African Americans. The term “focal segmental glomerulosclerosis” is defined as scarring or hardening (sclerosis) of parts (segmental) of some (focal) glomeruli (parts of the kidney) while other glomeruli remain unaffected.

This disease is typically associated with edema (swelling), proteinuria (protein in urine, which is a way to measure kidney function), hypertension (high blood pressure), microscopic hematuria (blood in the urine), and renal insufficiency (poor kidney function).

Recent studies suggest that either the incidence (new cases) of FSGS has increased or an increased number of biopsies of African American patients have made the diagnosis more common.

The condition can be the result of various issues:

  • Virus infection
  • Caused by medications 
  • Linked to cancer 
  • Altered structure or function of kidney after disease or surgery (i.e., diabetes, sickle cell disease, obesity)
  • Nonspecific FSGS caused by kidney scarring 
  • Genetic mutations 
  • Without any known causes 

Recently, researchers have established a strong connection between abnormal variants in genes found in individuals of sub-Saharan African ancestry and the development of FSGS. The disease can affect both children and adults with males tending to be slightly more susceptible. 

Currently, there are no medications approved specifically for the treatment of FSGS. Treatment involves a combination of drugs tailored to the cause of FSGS, a person’s age and other conditions (e.g. diabetes and obesity). The goal is to greatly reduce protein loss into the urine. 

This is achieved with drugs called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor II blockers (ARBs). ACE inhibitors/ARBs are sometimes combined with immunosuppressants such as steroids (e.g. prednisone).

Get Your Blood Pressure Under Control

There are a few ways to keep your kidney healthy. You can incorporate foods like bell peppers, berries, cabbage and more to your overall diet. You can also try the following recipes.

Herb-Roasted Chicken Breasts
Pesto-Crusted Catfish

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Living With FSGS: Kevin Mott on Advocating for Himself and Others


Kidney-Friendly Recipes: Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts


Kidney-Friendly Recipes: Pesto Crusted Catfish