Understanding Renal Hypertension
As a patient with kidney disease, keeping your blood pressure in check is more important now than ever. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can have significant life-altering consequences.
What is renal hypertension?
Hypertension is also called high blood pressure. Renal hypertension, in particular, is high blood pressure that can result from and result in kidney disease. This type of hypertension decreases blood flow to your kidneys, which causes your blood vessels to constrict. In turn, this causes your blood pressure to rise.
When your kidneys aren’t receiving enough blood flow, they behave as though they are dehydrated. Your body then takes this as a cue to release hormones that signal it to hold on to sodium and water. As blood vessels take on additional fluid, your blood pressure rises and kidney function continues to decrease.
What causes it?
Renal hypertension and kidney disease are in a reciprocal relationship – hypertension contributes to kidney disease and kidney disease contributes to hypertension. Renal hypertension is often worsened in kidney disease patients as kidney function decreases. Continuous high blood pressure quickens the progression of the chronic kidney disease and becomes more difficult to control in later stages. Early observation and treatment of high blood pressure in kidney disease patients is critical to slowing kidney decline and maintaining quality of life.
What are the warning signs of renal hypertension?
Renal hypertension often develops silently. You can’t feel your arteries narrowing. Only in the extreme and unlikely scenario that you have a massive blood pressure spike, you may feel symptoms like headache, confusion, or blurry vision. Most experience no symptoms, which makes hypertension so dangerous.
What are the treatment options?
As a kidney disease patient, your nephrologist may have already identified that you have renal hypertension or are at risk for developing it. The first line of defense against hypertension is medication. Your nephrologist may prescribe several medications at once to control your blood pressure.
If medication doesn’t work or if you are not a candidate for high blood pressure medication, your doctor may recommend a procedure to improve blood flow. These might include one of the following:
- Angioplasty, where a catheter is inserted through an artery in the groin to reach the renal artery. A balloon is then temporarily inflated to improve blood flow.
- During angioplasty, a stent may be placed in the renal artery to keep blood flowing through it even after the balloon is removed.
- Bypass surgery, in which a healthy blood vessel is sewn in next to the narrowed one when the other two procedures are not feasible.
It is so important to follow your nephrologist’s treatment plan for your renal hypertension to slow the progression of kidney disease. This might include a combination of medications and lifestyle changes.
General information is available on our blog about following a kidney and hearty healthy diet and maintaining an active lifestyle with kidney disease – both ways to help keep your renal hypertension in check.
If you have specific questions about your treatment plan, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Nephrology Associates of Greater Cincinnati.