High blood pressure and chronic kidney disease (CKD) 

Monitoring blood pressure is an essential part of maintaining healthy kidneys. Keeping your blood pressure at prescribed levels is important in both preventing chronic kidney disease (CKD) and slowing its progression. If you have diabetes or proteinuria (protein in the urine), it is especially important to control your high blood pressure. Kidney disease hypertension is serious and requires your attention to achieve good control.

High blood pressure (or hypertension) is the second leading cause of CKD. If you have high blood pressure and it goes untreated, blood vessels throughout your body can be damaged. When your kidneys’ blood vessels are damaged, their ability to remove waste and excess fluids from your body is impaired and serious health issues can occur. In addition, the extra fluid in your blood can cause your blood pressure to go up even higher, creating a dangerous cycle. Increased blood pressure due to kidney changes is referred to as kidney disease hypertension

Diagnosing high blood pressure

There are no obvious symptoms of high blood pressure or hypertension, so it can go unnoticed and cause damage before it is diagnosed. That’s why it’s critical that you have your blood pressure checked regularly by your doctor. You can also learn to take your blood pressure at home or at your local pharmacy for more frequent readings. For the most accurate reading, blood pressure should be checked in a quiet room after you’ve been sitting still for at least five minutes.  

Normal blood pressure for adults is less than 120/80. If your reading is consistently at or above 140/90, you have Stage 1 hypertension which is an early phase of high blood pressure. If your blood pressure falls between normal and Stage 1, you are considered pre-hypertensive and should make lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure to prevent kidney disease, as well as heart disease. If you have CKD, strive to keep your blood pressure at or below 130/80, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Controlling high blood pressure 

If you are hypertensive or pre-hypertensive, the following lifestyle guidelines can help you control your blood pressure.  

  • Maintain your weight at a level appropriate for you height.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods (unless you are prescribed a diet).
  • Limit your daily sodium intake to 2,000 milligrams.
  • Exercise at a moderate level for 30 minutes almost every day.
  • Avoid consuming too much alcohol. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women no more than one drink per day.
  • Do not smoke.

Along with a healthy lifestyle, you may need medication to control your blood pressure. The most common types of blood pressure medications are diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), beta blockers and calcium channel blockers. Studies have shown that ACE inhibitors and ARBs protect the kidneys and slow the progression of chronic kidney disease. Diuretics, also known as water pills, help increase urination to get rid of excess fluid. You may need to take two or more blood pressure medications to keep your blood pressure at or below 130/80 if you have been diagnosed with kidney disease hypertension.

Preventing kidney failure when you have high blood pressure

High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of kidney failure, also called end stage renal disease (ESRD), or Stage 5 chronic kidney disease. People at this stage must either receive a kidney transplant or have regular blood-cleansing treatments called dialysis. To prevent kidney failure, it is important to take every measure to maintain your blood pressure at the recommended levels. It is necessary for you to learn all about your treatments, and work with your doctor and other health care practitioners to help you achieve your health goals.

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