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High Blood Pressure and Kidney Disease

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High blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading cause of kidney disease and kidney failure (end-stage renal disease). 

Hypertension can cause damage to the blood vessels and filters in the kidney, making removal of waste from the body difficult. Once a person is diagnosed with end-stage renal disease, dialysis -- a blood-cleansing process -- or kidney transplantation are necessary.

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What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Disease?

The symptoms of kidney disease include:

  • High/worsening blood pressure
  • Decrease in amount of urine or difficulty urinating
  • Edema (fluid retention), especially in the lower legs
  • A need to urinate more often, especially at night

How Is Kidney Disease Diagnosed?

As with high blood pressure, you may not realize that you have kidney disease. Certain laboratory tests can indicate whether your kidneys are eliminating waste products properly. These tests include serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN);  elevated levels of either can indicate kidney damage. Proteinuria, an excess of protein in the urine, is also a sign of kidney disease.

Who Is At Risk for Kidney Disease Due to High Blood Pressure?

Kidney disease caused by high blood pressure affects every group and race. However, certain groups are at higher risk, including:

  • African-Americans
  • Hispanic-Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Natives of Alaska
  • People who have diabetes
  • People with a family history of high blood pressure and kidney disease

How Can I Prevent Kidney Disease?

To prevent kidney damage from high blood pressure:

  • Try to keep your blood pressure controlled.
  • Make sure you get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis.
  • Eat a proper diet.
  • Get moderate exercise, such as walking, 30 minutes daily.
  • Take the medication your doctor prescribes.

How Is Kidney Disease Treated?

For patients who have high blood pressure and kidney disease, the most important treatment is to control your blood pressure through lifestyle changes. ACE inhibitor and angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) drugs lower blood pressure and can protect the kidneys from further damage.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACC on May 08, 2012
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