Your heart and kidney disease 

Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, is the leading cause of death in the United States. Keeping your kidney disease under control is one of the ways to keep your heart healthy. High blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, anemia and calcium-phosphate levels are complications of kidney disease which could lead to cardiovascular disease.

High blood pressure, your heart and kidney disease

When blood pressure is high, it increases the force of blood against the artery walls through your body. Elevated pressure can damage the arteries throughout your body including those in your heart and kidneys. If blood pressure is controlled, the risk of heart disease and kidney damage may be reduced or eliminated. Prescription medicines from your doctor can control high blood pressure. Weight loss, dietary modifications, exercise and lifestyle changes can cause reductions in blood pressure as well.

Diabetes, your heart and kidney disease

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease. Diabetes occurs when excess sugar stays in the bloodstream. The sugar damages blood vessels, along with the kidneys and the blood vessels of your heart.

Anemia, your heart and kidney disease

Anemia means your red blood cell count is low. Your kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin, which signals bone marrow to create red blood cells. If the message does not get through, your body does not make new red blood cells. As a result, your heart will get less oxygen because there are not enough red blood cells to deliver oxygen throughout the body. Anemia can also cause the heart to overwork, resulting in the thickening of the wall of the left lower chamber of the heart. This condition is called left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and increases the risk of heart failure or sudden cardiac arrest.

Calcium-phosphate levels, your heart and kidney disease

When kidneys work properly, they keep calcium and phosphate levels balanced. Kidneys that are damaged are unable to do this, leaving high amounts of phosphorus in the blood. The risk for coronary artery disease, a specific type of heart disease, is increased when this occurs. High phosphate levels contribute to calcifications in the heart and arteries. 

Risk of heart disease when you have kidney disease

Factors that play a part in developing heart disease are:

  • Age
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Gender (men tend to be affected more often than women)
  • Family history
  • Contributing health conditions such as kidney disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes

If you are at high risk for heart disease, discuss it with your doctor. There are many things that can be done to substantially reduce your risk.

Reducing the risk for heart and kidney disease

It’s good to recognize early on that you may be at risk for heart and kidney disease. Changes to improve heart and kidney health can happen if you:

  • Stop smoking and avoid second-hand smoke
  • Exercise (try to walk at least 30 minutes a day)
  • Reduce sodium intake
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Be mindful of animal fats, such as butter and lard, and try to limit them in your diet
  • Keep your doctor appointments
  • Take medications prescribed by your doctor

Summary

Kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other health conditions can cause cardiovascular disease. To keep both your heart and kidneys healthy, practice healthy lifestyle habits and talk to your doctor about prevention and treatments.

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