March is National Kidney Month to raise awareness about kidney disease. This year the National Institute for Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) is partnering with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to focus on the connection between high blood pressure (hypertension) and kidney disease. Research has shown that high blood pressure raises the risk for kidney disease.
High blood Pressure Raises Risk for Diseases and Death
High blood pressure raises the risk for:
- Cardiovascular events like heart attacks and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States.
- Kidney diseases and failure which are the 9th leading cause of death in the United States.
How High Blood Pressure can Damage the Kidneys
According to the NIDDK, high blood pressure causes narrowing of the blood vessels in the body and this eventually damages the kidneys. Narrowing of the blood vessels causes a reduction in the flow of blood. If the blood vessels in the kidneys become damaged, they may no longer function properly and the kidneys are not able to filter out all the wastes and extra fluid from the body. Fluid that is not able to be excreted from the body can build up in the blood vessels. This fluid retention causes blood pressure to rise even higher than before. This leads to a vicious cycle that causes further kidney damage and can lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD) and kidney failure.
High Blood Pressure and Kidney Disease in the United States
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
In 2017, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association published new guidelines for hypertension management and defined high blood pressure as a blood pressure at or above 130/80 mmHg. High blood pressure does not usually cause any symptoms and is called a “silent” disease.
- Nearly half of adults in the United States (108 million, or 45%) have high blood pressure.
- High blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death in 2017 for more than 472,000 people in the United States. That is nearly 1,300 deaths each day.
- About 37 million people (1 in 7) may have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Early chronic kidney disease does not have symptoms and is also considered to be a “silent” disease. By the time symptoms set in, a lot of damage to the kidneys has taken place.
- Only about 1 in 4 adults (24%) with high blood pressure have their condition under control.
- Half of adults (30 million) with high blood pressure who should be taking prescribed medication to control their blood pressure are not taking necessary medication.
- High blood pressure costs the United States about $131 billion each year.
Managing High Blood Pressure and Preventing Kidney Disease
Medication and following a healthy lifestyle are the main ways to lower blood pressure.
Blood pressure may be controlled by blood pressure lowering medications. This can help to slow the development of kidney disease.
It is very important to maintain a healthy weight. Losing even a small amount of weight can improve blood pressure levels.
Make sure to drink enough pure water every day and avoid getting dehydrated.
Follow a healthy diet that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Eat more fish and less red meat. Cut down on salty foods or using too much table salt. Do not eat processed meats like ham, salami, hot dogs or corned beef, as they are loaded with salt and nitrates which are very hard on the kidneys.
Eat less sweets and sugar sweetened drinks.
Cut down or stop drinking alcoholic beverages. Alcohol raises blood pressure. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can damage the kidneys. See our blog post from March 11, 2019 that even moderate alcohol drinking can lead to high blood pressure.
Cut down on drinking coffee as caffeine in coffee can raise blood pressure.
Quit smoking. Nicotine also causes narrowing of blood vessels which can raise blood pressure.
Get enough good quality 7-8 hours of sleep.
Be physically active and get about 30 minutes or more of physical activity every day.
Learn to manage stress.
Diseases from High Blood Pressure can Lead to Short-term Rehabilitation or Long-term Skilled Nursing Care
The Park Crescent Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in East Orange, New Jersey offers expert short-term SMART rehabilitation and long-term skilled nursing care at the hands of a warm and dedicated staff. Park Crescent also specializes in cardiac rehabilitation and post-stroke care.
Managing high blood pressure is a major way to prevent chronic kidney disease, stroke, heart attacks, dementia and death.