Hypertension & Your Kidneys
Uncontrolled hypertension is one of the most common causes of renal failure.
What Is Hypertension?
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a condition in which the force of the blood pushing against your artery walls is consistently too high. Your blood pressure is determined by two factors: the amount of blood your heart is pumping and the resistance to blood flow within your arteries. The narrower your arteries and the more blood your heart is pumping, the higher your blood pressure.
It often develops over many years. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems, including heart and kidney disease.
Signs & Symptoms of Hypertension
Hypertension is often called the “silent killer” because people who have it generally won’t experience any noticeable symptoms. That’s why it is so important to check your blood pressure regularly. In most cases, that is the only way to tell that you have hypertension.
How Hypertension Affects Kidney Health
Hypertension is the second-leading cause of kidney failure (after diabetes). That’s because your kidney function is closely tied to the circulatory system. Your kidneys use a lot of blood vessels to perform their waste-filtering task. When these blood vessels become damaged, the nephrons that filter your blood don’t get the oxygen and nutrients needed to function well. Over time, it can cause the arteries around the kidneys to narrow, harden, or weaken, preventing them from delivering blood to the kidneys. The result is kidney failure.
Hypertension is generally treated with lifestyle changes and medications.
Recommended lifestyle changes may include:
- Reducing your salt intake and eating a heart-healthy diet
- Getting regular physical activity
- Maintaining a healthy weight, or losing weight if you are overweight
- Limiting your alcohol intake
When lifestyle changes aren’t enough, your doctor may recommend medications to help lower your blood pressure. Possible medications include diuretics — such as thiazides, chlorthalidone, and indapamide — beta-blockers and alpha-blockers, central agonists, calcium-channel blockers, vasodilators, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, or peripheral adrenergic inhibitors.
There are many factors that can increase a person’s risk for high blood pressure. To determine whether you are at risk of developing hypertension, some factors to consider are:
- Age and gender – the risk of hypertension increases as you age. High blood pressure is also more common in men up to age 64. Women are more likely to develop hypertension after age 65.
- Family history – hypertension tends to run in families
- Weight – being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure
- Physical inactivity – people who aren’t physically active are at a higher risk for hypertension
Other factors to avoid are drinking too much alcohol, a high-sodium diet, insufficient potassium levels, and high-stress levels.
Blood Pressure & Kidney Treatment in Brockton & Taunton, MA
If you are concerned about your blood pressure, speak to your doctor about how you can avoid or treat hypertension. Being proactive and knowing your risk factors can help lower your risks for serious blood pressure-related medical issues — including kidney failure.
If you believe you may have hypertension and are concerned about how that is affecting your kidneys, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment at Associates in Nephrology in Brockton & Taunton, Massachusetts by calling us at (508) 587-0700 or request your appointment now.