Because March is National Kidney Month, we are exploring how the heart and kidneys are connected. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, heart disease is the most common cause of death among people who have kidney disease. But how are kidney disease and heart failure linked? And what can be done to prevent them?
The Connection Between the Heart and Kidneys
The heart and kidneys have to work together to keep the body functioning properly. When there is a problem with one of them, it affects the other. The heart pumps blood filled with oxygen to the entire body, including the kidneys. If the heart and the cardiovascular system are not healthy and functioning properly, then your kidneys do not get enough oxygenated blood to function properly.
The kidneys clean the blood by filtering out extra water and waste products. They also help control blood pressure, keep your bones healthy, regulate the minerals in the blood, and make red blood cells. If they aren’t working correctly, then your blood would still have waste and extra water in it. The heart would have to work harder and might eventually stop working altogether.
Kidney Disease and Heart Failure
Because of the link between the heart and the kidneys that we explored before, kidney disease and heart failure are also linked. Chronic kidney disease causes the kidneys to lose function. They can no longer perform their vital function of filtering blood and removing water and waste from it. This can cause high blood pressure and heart issues that may lead to heart failure.
Just like kidney disease can increase your chances of heart disease and heart failure, it works the other way around. Having heart disease increases your chance of having kidney disease, which may lead to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or kidney failure.
Kidney disease and heart failure also have many risk factors in common. For instance, people with high blood pressure or diabetes are more likely to develop kidney disease and/or heart disease. Managing those conditions can help you avoid heart disease and CKD.
Preventing Heart Failure
There are some simple but important steps you can take to protect your kidney and heart health. Keep in mind that things that are good for your kidneys can benefit your heart and vice versa. Make sure you consult your doctors and other healthcare providers before making any big lifestyle changes, but the following things can help you avoid kidney disease and heart failure:
- Stay active and get regular exercise
- Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
- Stop smoking
- Learn how to reduce and manage stress
- Eat a healthy diet low in fat, sugar, and sodium
- Avoid using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen
- These drugs can harm kidney function
- Avoid herbal supplements that may harm the kidneys
- Talk to your doctor before using any new supplement or medication
- Get tested regularly to make sure your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol are at healthy levels
- Foll your healthcare provider’s instructions for treatment
If you already have kidney disease or kidney failure, you should work with your doctors to treat your condition to prevent heart disease and heart failure. You should also consult a dietician o they can help you with a diet plan to help maintain the healthiest lifestyle possible. This can help lower your chances of developing heart disease. If you already have heart disease, these measures can prevent it from getting worse.
Dr. Farhan Majeed of Pulse: The Heart, Valve and Vascular Institute is an expert in providing comprehensive care for people with cardiac, vascular, and structural heart diseases. He combines his years of experience with the latest treatments and testing methods. If you have questions or concerns about your heart’s health, call (941) 629-2111 to schedule an appointment at our Port Charlotte, FL office.