How High Blood Pressure Affects Kidney Disease
Blood pressure is the force of your blood as it moves through your arteries and pushes against the vessel's walls. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is an increase in the amount of pressure your blood places on the blood vessels. “High blood pressure can constrict and narrow the blood vessels, which eventually damages and weakens them throughout the body, including in the kidneys. The narrowing reduces blood flow. If your kidneys’ blood vessels are damaged, they may no longer work properly.”
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) can be a result of high blood pressure. This is a condition that affects an estimated 15% of adults in the United States. While high blood pressure affects 46% of adults. This condition is the second leading cause of CKD (after diabetes). Once kidneys are damaged, they are less likely to help regulate blood pressure.
Your kidneys work to remove waste and excess fluid from your body. A healthy kidney filters about half a cup of blood each minute. “If you have high blood pressure, the increased force of blood on the artery walls damages your arteries over time. Arteries throughout your body can become weak, narrow, or stiff. This can cause reduced blood flow in your kidneys.”
Early kidney disease often does not show symptoms. As it gets worse, some people will experience edema (swelling) in the legs, feet or ankles. Advanced kidney disease can display several signs:
- Loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting.
- Drowsiness or feeling tired.
- Headaches or trouble concentrating.
- Increased or decreased urination.
- Generalized itchiness or numbness.
- Weight loss or muscle cramps.
- Shortness of breath.
“If you have high blood pressure, you can lower your risk of kidney disease by working closely with your doctor to manage your blood pressure. This involves aiming to keep your blood pressure within a target range, which varies from person to person.” You can also take steps to help lower your blood pressure:
- Get regular exercise.
- Take high blood pressure medications.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet, or the DASH diet.
- Lower your salt intake.
- Quit smoking.
- Reduce or eliminate drinking alcohol.
- Reduce stress.
- Manage your weight.
about the author
Lisa Foster is a mom of 3 daughters, a puzzle lover, writer and HealthTree advocate. She believes in the mission of the foundation and the team that builds it forward. She calls Houston, Texas home.