Chronic kidney disease is a gradual process where kidney function declines over time. At the Nephrology Associates of Greater Cincinnati, we believe early detection and prevention are critical to preserving kidney function and reducing the risk of kidney failure. Kidney failure can occur when damage is extensive enough that the kidneys can no longer function with dialysis or transplant.
While kidney disease can’t be reversed, it’s important to understand the risk factors to slow the progression of the disease.
What are kidney failure risk factors?
Anyone at any age can develop kidney disease in their lifetime, but certain factors put you more at risk.
High blood sugar
High blood sugar from diabetes is one of the leading risk factors of kidney failure. When your body’s blood sugar levels are too high, your kidneys struggle to filter waste and fluid from the blood. This causes kidney damage over time and can lead to chronic kidney disease.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is another leading cause of kidney failure. When your heart is working too hard to pump blood through your body, the blood vessels in your kidneys can weaken or become damaged over time.
How can you minimize your risk of kidney failure?
Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean you’re going to have chronic kidney disease or kidney failure. There are steps you can take today to reduce your risk or prevent existing damage from getting worse.
Keep your blood sugar in check
Follow your doctor’s instructions for managing your diabetes and take any medications exactly as directed.
- Check your blood sugar regularly. Your levels should be between 70 and 130 before eating, less than 180 two hours after a meal, and between 90 and 150 at bedtime.
- Work with a dietitian to create a diabetic-friendly meal plan that works for your lifestyle and preferences.
- Keep your care team informed if you’re struggling to manage your blood sugar levels.
For those at risk of developing diabetes, here are a few changes you can make to your diet:
- Reduce your sugar and sodium intake.
- Replace ultra processed foods with nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and foods high in fiber.
- Practice portion control.
Maintain a healthy weight
Your doctor can advise you on what a healthy weight looks like for your body. Even losing a few pounds can make a positive impact on your health.
Exercising regularly benefits your whole body! Just 30 minutes of activity per day can lower your blood sugar and blood pressure, help maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, and more. Exercise can’t reverse chronic kidney disease, but it does play an important role in slowing the progression of the disease.
Lower your blood pressure
Kidney disease and high blood pressure have a reciprocal relationship – kidney disease can lead to high blood pressure and high pressure can lead to kidney disease. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a healthy blood pressure whether you’ve been diagnosed with CKD or not. A healthy blood pressure for most individuals is 120/80.
In addition to regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight, here are a few more ways to lower your blood pressure:
- Follow diet recommendations for lowering your blood sugar – reduce sodium and saturated fat intake.
- Avoid trans fats.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Manage stress and anxiety through exercise, meditation, therapy, and/or lifestyle changes.
- Take any blood pressure medications your doctor has prescribed as directed.
Smoking and tobacco use can make kidney disease and diabetes worse by reducing blood flow to the kidneys. Talk to your care team about advice and resources available to help you quit.