House Call: Hypertension and your kidneys Pt. 2

Updated: Aug. 12, 2022 at 5:35 PM EDT
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - Welcome back to UHC’s House Call on WDTV. In the second part of our three part series, Hypertension and Kidney Disease, Dr. Lewis Akers, Nephrologist at UHC Nephrology, joins us to talk about hypertension and how it can affect your kidneys.

1). What are the symptoms of high blood pressure and kidney disease?

Most people with high blood pressure do not have symptoms. In rare cases, high blood pressure can cause headaches.

Early CKD also may not have symptoms. As kidney disease gets worse, some people may have swelling, called edema. Edema happens when the kidneys cannot get rid of extra fluid and salt. Edema can occur in the legs, feet, ankles, or—less often—in the hands or face.

Symptoms of advanced kidney disease can include:

  • loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting
  • drowsiness, feeling tired, or sleep problems
  • headaches or trouble concentrating
  • increased or decreased urination
  • generalized itching or numbness, dry skin, or darkened skin
  • weight loss
  • muscle cramps
  • chest pain or shortness of breath

2). How do health care professionals diagnose high blood pressure and kidney disease?

High blood pressure

Blood pressure test results are written with the two numbers separated by a slash. The top number is called the systolic pressure and represents the pressure as the heart beats and pushes blood through the blood vessels. The bottom number is called the diastolic pressure and represents the pressure as blood vessels relax between heartbeats.

Your health care professional will diagnose you with high blood pressure if your blood pressure readings are consistently higher than 130/80 when tested repeatedly in a health care office.

You can also buy a blood pressure cuff to monitor your blood pressure at home.

Kidney disease

To check for kidney disease, health care professionals use:

  • a blood test that checks how well your kidneys are filtering your blood, called GFR, which stands for glomerular filtration rate.
  • a urine test to check for albumin. Albumin is a protein that can pass into the urine when the kidneys are damaged.

If you have kidney disease, your health care professional will use the same two tests to monitor your kidney disease.

3). How can I prevent or slow the progression of kidney disease from high blood pressure?

The best way to slow or prevent kidney disease from high blood pressure is to take steps to lower your blood pressure. These steps include a combination of medicines and lifestyle changes, such as:

  • being physically active—Regular physical activity can lower your blood pressure and reduce your chances of other health problems.
  • maintaining a healthy weight—If you are overweight or have obesity, aim to reduce your weight by 7 to 10 percent during the first year of treatment for high blood pressure. This amount of weight loss can lower your chance of developing health problems related to high blood pressure.
  • quitting smoking—If you smoke, you should quit. Smoking can damage blood vessels, raise the chance of developing high blood pressure, and worsen health problems related to high blood pressure.
  • managing stress—Learning how to manage stress, relax, and cope with problems can improve your emotional and physical health.
  • following a healthy diet—Make sure to include less sodium (salt) intake in your daily diet.

No matter what the cause of your kidney disease, high blood pressure can make your kidneys worse. If you have kidney disease, you should talk with your health care professional about your individual blood pressure goals and how often you should have your blood pressure checked.

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