The connection between diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease
Kidney disease is directly linked to diabetes and high blood pressure. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney disease, while high blood pressure is the second leading cause among Americans.
More than 26 million people are at risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD) and don’t even know it. It’s important to have a doctor regularly check blood pressure and blood sugar (glucose) levels. If diagnosed with diabetes or high blood pressure, steps can be taken to keep them under control and help maintain kidney health. Just being aware of the current state of your health can help prevent kidney failure or prolong kidney function. If kidney damage has occurred, a plan of action can be developed to maintain or improve health.
Kidney disease caused by diabetes or high blood pressure doesn’t fix itself. It only gets worse over time. Ignoring kidney disease can lead to end stage renal disease or kidney failure, which is only treatable with dialysis or transplant.
Diabetes and kidney disease
Diabetes is a common health condition effecting 6% of the U.S. population. Diabetes occurs when the body’s blood sugar level is higher than normal and not enough insulin is produced to keep it under control.
Kidneys have tiny filters that keep protein inside the body to maintain good health. High blood glucose damages the kidneys’ filters. When kidneys aren’t functioning properly, protein leaks into the urine. Unhealthy kidneys can’t clean out the wastes and extra fluid. Wastes and fluid will build up in the blood instead of leaving the body through urine.
Treatments for diabetes are very effective and can help prevent CKD. Eating a healthy, diabetes-friendly diet, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, checking blood pressure regularly, keeping doctors’ appointments and taking medications as prescribed are valuable tools for living with diabetes and maintaining kidney health.
High blood pressure and kidney disease
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services more than 50 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure. That’s 1 out of 4 people.
High blood pressure damages blood vessels throughout the body. It usually damages the small vessels, such as those in the eyes and the kidneys, first. Ironically, high blood pressure can lead to chronic kidney disease and kidney disease can lead to high blood pressure since the kidneys help regulate blood pressure and fluids in the body. Too much fluid causes higher blood pressure, which leads to a continuing cycle of more blood vessel damage.
The American Heart Association recommends that simply knowing your blood pressure will help maintain it. A desirable blood pressure is 120/80 or lower, while a high blood pressure reading is 140/90 or higher. Helpful hints to lowering blood pressure are: loose excess weight, avoid salty food, include lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains to your diet, and follow your doctor’s instructions.
Being at risk for diabetes and high blood pressure
Kidney disease usually has no symptoms, so laboratory tests may be necessary for detection. People have a greater risk for diabetes and/or high blood pressure if they experience any of the following:
- A family history of diabetes and/or high blood pressure
- Excess body weight, especially around the waist
- Age (older than 45 years)
- Certain ethnic groups including African American, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans are at greater risk for high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Unhealthy lifestyle, including:
- A salty diet
- Too much alcohol consumption
- An unhealthy diet
- Lack of physical exercise
Chronic kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease happens over time and causes permanent kidney damage. Many times, chronic kidney disease doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms until right before kidneys fail. The following symptoms can be related to chronic kidney disease. Anyone with one or more of these symptoms should see a doctor immediately to be screened for kidney disease:
- Swelling of body parts (including ankles, feet or face)
- Burning or uncomfortable sensation during urination
- Foamy, bloody or coffee-colored urine
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Listlessness or chronic fatigue