Blood Pressure and Chronic Kidney Disease
The kidneys play a key role in keeping a person’s blood pressure under control, and blood pressure, can also affect the health of the kidneys. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can damage the kidneys and lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD).
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the walls of the blood vessels. Extra fluid in the body increases the amount of fluid in blood vessels and makes blood pressure higher. Narrow, stiff, or clogged blood vessels also raise blood pressure.
Hypertension can result from too much fluid in normal blood vessels or from normal fluid in narrow, stiff, or clogged blood vessels.
People with high blood pressure should see their doctor regularly.
How does high blood pressure damage the kidneys?
High blood pressure makes the heart work harder and, over time, can damage blood vessels throughout the body. If the blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged, they may stop removing wastes and extra fluid from the body. The extra fluid in the blood vessels may then raise blood pressure even more. It’s a dangerous cycle.
What are the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure?
Most people with high blood pressure have no symptoms. The only way to know whether a person’s blood pressure is high is to have a health professional measure it with a blood pressure cuff. The result is expressed as two numbers. The top number, called the systolic pressure, represents the pressure when the heart is beating. The bottom number, called the diastolic pressure, shows the pressure when the heart is resting between beats. A person’s blood pressure is considered normal if it stays at or below 120/80, which is commonly stated as “120 over 80.” People with a systolic blood pressure of 120 to 139 or a diastolic blood pressure of 80 to 89 are considered prehypertensive and should adopt lifestyle changes to lower their blood pressure and prevent heart and blood vessel diseases. A person whose systolic blood pressure is consistently 140 or higher or whose diastolic pressure is 90 or higher is considered to have high blood pressure and should talk with a doctor about the best ways to lower it.
How can kidney damage from high blood pressure be prevented?
Persons with high blood pressure should be sure to take their medications as directed. Other lifestyle changes can improve outcomes, including diet, physical activity, and smoking cessation. You should consult your healthcare team to develop a plan that will work for you.
Can medicines help control blood pressure?
Many people need medicine to control high blood pressure. Several effective blood pressure medicines are available. The most common types of blood pressure medicines doctors prescribe are diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), beta blockers, and calcium channel blockers. Two of these medicines, the ACE inhibitors and ARBs, have an added protective effect on the kidneys. Studies have shown that ACE inhibitors and ARBs reduce proteinuria and slow the progression of kidney damage. Diuretics, also known as “water pills,” help a person urinate and get rid of excess fluid in the body. A combination of two or more blood pressure medicines may be needed to keep blood pressure below 130/80.
Who is at risk for kidney failure related to high blood pressure?
Everyone has some risk of developing kidney failure from high blood pressure. African Americans, however, are more likely than Caucasians to have high blood pressure and its related kidney problems—even when their blood pressure is only mildly elevated. In fact, African Americans are six times more likely than Caucasians to develop hypertension-related kidney failure.
People with diabetes also have a greater risk of developing kidney failure. Early management of high blood pressure is especially important for African Americans with diabetes.
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This material is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Medical questions cannot be answered via email. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations. Information above was provided by the National Kidney Foundation and is subject to copyright restrictions. One copy may be printed for personal use.