Did you know one in every three adults in the United States has high blood pressure? And only half of those adults have it under control. Blood pressure is the force with which blood pushes against the vessel walls, and it’s an extremely important aspect of your health. When it’s high (140/90 or greater), you are at risk of serious health conditions like:
- Heart attack
- Chronic heart failure
- Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
How does high blood pressure cause kidney disease?
Your kidneys rely on blood vessels to filter excess fluid and waste from your blood. High blood pressure can cause the vessels in the kidney to weaken, harden and narrow, which makes it difficult for the kidneys to function properly. Kidneys with damaged blood vessels are unable to perform their important filtering processes, and the resulting excess fluid can increase your blood pressure even more (a condition called renal hypertension). The kidneys eventually fail if enough vessels become damaged.
You can prevent kidney disease caused by high blood pressure by:
- Working with your doctor to keep your blood pressure under control
- Staying active
- Eating a healthy diet
- Following your medication plan
Healthy lifestyle choices can help you not only prevent CKD caused by high blood pressure but also keep your out-of-pocket healthcare costs down.
The Cost of Kidney Disease
Having certain conditions in conjunction with CKD, like high blood pressure, significantly increases the annual healthcare costs for patients with chronic kidney disease. In fact, the average cost to treat high blood pressure in people without CKD can cost an average of $14,399 each year—depending on how well you manage your condition.
One study identified extra expenses that patients with CKD have compared to patients without the condition:
- Up to 2.5x more prescriptions
- Up to 1.9x more outpatient visits
- Up to 3.1x more hospital stays
The best ways to avoid extra healthcare costs are prevention and management.
Prevention and Management Techniques
You can slow the progression of kidney disease caused by high blood pressure and prevent complications by making healthy lifestyle choices including:
Maintaining a healthy body weight
Those who are obese or overweight are at an increased risk of CKD caused by blood pressure and several other conditions. Aim to reduce your weight by 7-10 percent to lower your risk. Use these tips to help you set realistic and attainable weight loss goals.
The surge of hormones your body produces when you are under stress can temporarily increase your blood pressure. Researchers aren’t sure whether chronic stress leads to high blood pressure, but stress can influence behaviors that cause high blood pressure like overeating, excess alcohol consumption and poor sleep. Try these relaxation techniques to reduce stress and find other ways to limit or eliminate stressors in your life.
Taking your medication as directed
When you take your medication as directed, you are reducing your risk of health complications, and medication that lowers your blood pressure can greatly slow the progression of kidney disease. If you are unhappy with the side effects of your medication, talk to your doctor about trying something new instead of stopping them altogether.
If you are a smoker, work with your family and doctor to quit. Smoking increases your blood pressure and worsens other chronic conditions you may have. It may also lead to other serious conditions like cancer.
Most people should set a goal to exercise 30-60 minutes a day most or all days of the week. Regular exercise is a great way to lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of other health conditions. Consult your doctor before beginning an exercise routine, as some types of activity may not be right for you.
Eating a healthy diet
Healthy eating is a great way to lower blood pressure. Aim for a diet that:
- Is low in fat and cholesterol
- Is low in sodium
- Is rich in protein, nutrients and fiber
- Emphasizes fat-free or low-fat dairy products, poultry, eggs and nuts
- Is less red meats and added sugars.
If you aren’t sure how to eat right for your needs, you may want to visit a dietician.
Make sure to visit your doctor regularly and get your blood pressure checked. If you do have high blood pressure or conditions caused by high blood pressure, work with your doctor to lower it and reduce your risk of complications. Your doctor can help you find the appropriate methods for your individual needs and goals.
Revere Health Nephrology providers specialize in treatment of patients with kidney diseases.