The Intricate Relationship Between Kidney Disease And Heart Disease
Research has shown that heart disease poses a significant risk for kidney disease. The heart and kidneys are intricately dependent on one another. The heart carries blood (and oxygen) to all parts of the body. The kidneys filter the waste from that blood and help regulate blood pressure.
These two organs are so interrelated that “the kidney can become dysfunctional within a narrow window of three to six minutes after the heart stops due to heart failure. That’s why heart failure is now considered a significant risk factor for kidney disease.” When the heart cannot pump blood effectively, pressure builds in the main vein connected to the kidney. Blood that becomes congested in the heart also builds in the kidneys.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) can overwork the heart due to the increased pressure required to pump blood to help the diseased kidneys. CKD can also accelerate plaque deposits in the heart arteries. “CKD is also closely linked with peripheral vascular disease, cerebral vascular disease and decreased blood circulation to the lower limbs.”
Kidney disease can affect the heart by:
- Increasing the risk of high blood pressure, which will damage the blood vessels in the heart
- Changing the cholesterol levels, which can also damage the heart
- Increasing fluid retention which increases the pressure in the heart
- Taking some medication for kidney disease, such as steroid therapy
“As your heart and kidneys are interconnected, if your heart is not working well, this can also affect your kidneys. If your heart pump is not working properly, your kidneys will receive less oxygen. Your kidneys need lots of oxygen to function normally and if this is reduced, your kidney function will get worse over time.”
Risk factors for CKD and heart disease are similar: high blood sugar, high blood pressure, family history, obesity, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity. Controlling blood pressure is key to successful treatment:
- Water tablets (diuretics) can help remove excess fluid. This helps the kidneys release more water and salt
- Ace inhibitors (ramipril, enalapril, lisinopril, perindopril) prevent enzymes in the body that narrow the blood vessels
- Beta blockers (bisoprolol, carvedilol, nebivolol) are used to control heart rhythm and treat angina
- Aldosterone blockers (spironolactone, eplerenone) help reduce sodium absorption, which encourages water loss
Ways you can manage CKD and heart disease:
- Be physically active
- Choose a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables
- Quit smoking
- Work to delay or properly manage diabetes
- Manage a healthy weight
“As the relationship between your heart and kidneys is so important, your doctor may check your heart if you have a kidney condition, and your kidneys if you have a heart condition.”
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.