According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than half of chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients also have high blood pressure. High blood pressure (HBP), also called hypertension, can increase the chance that your CKD will worsen, making it extremely important for CKD patients to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and keep blood pressure in check.
Unregulated HBP and chronic kidney disease are inextricably linked – hypertension can cause kidney disease and kidney disease can cause hypertension.
Hypertension is one of the leading causes of CKD. High blood pressure damages blood vessels throughout your body over time, which reduces the blood supply to vital organs like your kidneys. When HBP also damages the filtering bodies in your kidneys, the kidneys can no longer remove toxins, wastes, and excess water from your blood effectively. The extra fluid buildup in the blood vessels can then accelerate hypertension more.
How high is too high?
For adults 18 and older, 120/80 is considered a normal blood pressure. You may be at risk for hypertension if your blood pressure is between 120 and 139 for the top number, or between 80 and 89 for the bottom number. For chronic kidney disease and diabetic patients, 130/80 is considered high.
One high blood pressure reading does not necessarily mean that you have hypertension. It is important to follow up with your doctor regularly and take preventative steps to avoid problems later on.
How can I prevent hypertension?
While you can’t control the genetic factors that may cause hypertension, there are many lifestyle changes you can make right now to reduce your risk.
- Maintain a healthy weight for your body type. Even losing as little as 10 pounds can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and limited in excess sugar, calories, and fats can help keep your blood pressure in check.
- Cut the salt. High sodium intake can increase your blood pressure, so avoid packaged and processed foods with lots of sodium. Swap table salt for fresh herbs and seasonings.
- Get moving. Regular moderate exercise is critical for maintaining a healthy heart and controlling blood pressure. Even 30 minutes of low impact exercise a day is a great way to start.
Do I have CKD?
If you have hypertension and are worried about developing chronic kidney disease, talk to your doctor about your risk factors. Your doctor may recommend doing a series of tests to determine if you have CKD. This may include:
A blood test. Your blood may be tested for a waste product called creatinine, which is produced from muscle breakdown. This is then used to calculate your glomerular filtration rate (GFR) – a measure of your kidney function.
Urine tests. One will test for protein and the other for red and white blood cells. Increased amounts of protein in the urine may be a sign of kidney damage.
Your doctor can also teach you how to monitor your blood pressure at home. Keeping hypertension under control is a daily commitment. Eat healthy, keep moving, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You may also consider working with a dietitian to develop meal plans that work for you. Getting your family involved is another way to stick to a plan together and improve everyone’s health. For more information about hypertension, contact the Nephrology Associates of Greater Cincinnati at 513-984-3500.