What Is Stage 3 Kidney Disease Life Expectancy?

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on May 26, 2023
3 min read

Kidney disease is a severe condition in which your kidneys slowly start to fail. This leads to a build-up of harmful elements in your blood that would otherwise be filtered out through your kidneys. If kidney disease progresses, you would eventually need to get dialysis or a kidney transplant to remain alive. 

Stage 3 kidney disease means that the kidney’s function has been cut by half, and most patients experience ancillary problems like high blood pressure or bone difficulties. 

‌A survey of 13 studies on stage 3 kidney disease found that the all-cause mortality rate varied from 6% in 3 years to 51% in ten years. However, it also found that progression of kidney damage into stage 4 kidney disease was sporadic. The study found that people with stage 3B were often more at risk for mortality and other diseases than people with stage 3A kidney disease. 

Depending on how far your kidney disease has progressed, you will fit into one of the five stages of kidney disease. These stages are measured by your glomerular filtration rate or your GFR. Having stage 3 kidney disease means that you will have a GFR between 30 and 59. 

Most people who have stage 3 kidney disease will not have any symptoms. However, if you do, it can manifest as swelling in your hands or feet, back pain, or irregular urination patterns. 

The more impactful symptoms of kidney disease stage 3 are the health implications of your decreased kidney functioning such as high blood pressure, anemia, and bone disease. 

Ultimately, if stage 3 kidney disease goes untreated or progresses further, you will enter into stage 4 kidney disease. Stage 4 kidney disease is severe, as are its symptoms. It is also the last stage of kidney disease before kidney failure; at this point, you will need to talk to your doctor to prepare for kidney failure. ‌

If your kidneys fail, you will either need to have dialysis or a kidney transplant. Dialysis is a treatment that will clean your blood. You will need to think about which kind of dialysis you will want, as there are different types available. The other option, a kidney transplant, is when you find a donor who gives you a healthy kidney from their body. If you get a transplant, you will not need to do dialysis. 

Once you are diagnosed with stage 3 kidney disease, there is no way to treat the damage that has already been done to your kidneys. The following steps for your treatment have to do with treating the issues caused by decreased kidney functioning and preventing further damage. 

These treatments include: 

  • Keeping regular appointments with your doctor, neurologist, or any other specialist you may need to see
  • Managing your blood sugar (if you have diabetes)
  • Avoiding medications that further damage your kidneys
  • Monitoring and managing your blood pressure 
  • Changing your diet to limit protein, high-cholesterol foods, salt, and potassium
  • Not smoking
  • Exercising and staying active
  • Monitoring your weight to remain healthy
  • Attending to anemia (if you have it)

Additionally, you may need to take medications. Which medications and even if you need to take them entirely depends on the cause of your kidney disease. Some of these medications could be: 

  • An angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor which lowers your blood pressure
  • An angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) which would also lower your blood pressure
  • Diuretics to help flush out waste
  • Any type of medication that could help lower your cholesterol 
  • Erythropoietin which helps build red blood cells for people who struggle with anemia 
  • Vitamin D to strengthen the bones and avoid bone loss
  • A phosphate binder (if you are struggling to eliminate phosphate)

As stated earlier, stage 3 kidney disease does not often statistically lead to stage 4 kidney disease. However, it also does predispose someone to mortality more than not having any kidney disease at all. 

‌If you have stage 3 kidney disease, you shouldn’t expect to feel many severe symptoms. It should be a time to reevaluate your habits, make treatment plans with your doctor or doctors, and focus on staying healthy. The most important elements to preventing kidney failure are keeping medical appointments, taking your medications, having a healthy lifestyle, and monitoring your blood pressure and blood sugar.