Blood pressure and your kidneys
How healthy your kidneys are can affect your blood pressure, and vice versa. This means that if you have high blood pressure, then you are more likely to have kidney disease. Likewise, if you have kidney disease, this can sometimes cause high blood pressure. The pressure of the blood against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps is what is measured. The blood pressure measurement has two numbers: a top one, and a bottom one. The top number (systolic) is the pressure when the heart pumps blood out. The bottom number (diastolic) is the pressure when the heart relaxes before the next beat.
The biggest health risk for people with kidney disease is not actually kidney failure. People with kidney disease are much more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke. So if you have kidney disease you need to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. Controlling your blood pressure is a very important way to do this.
Know your number
Most people with high blood pressure do not know they have it because they don’t have any symptoms. Unfortunately, a heart attack or stroke can sometimes be the first sign of a problem. The only way to know if your blood pressure is high is to have it checked by a health care provider. A normal blood pressure reading is 120/70. A blood pressure is considered high when the top number is higher than 140 and the bottom number is higher than 90. Blood pressure is usually lowest when sleeping and high when exercising. Due to blood pressure variation throughout the day it is recommended to check frequently on a daily basis.
Who is at risk
A number of factors and variables can put you at a greater risk for developing high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension). Understanding these risk factors can help you be more aware of how likely you are to develop high blood pressure. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), also indicates that chances of getting high blood pressure are even greater for:
- Women over 55 years old
- Overweight people
- Those who are borderline or pre-hypertensive (between 120/80 and 139/89, though these numbers could change)
- Those with a family history of high blood pressure
Your actions can help control your blood pressure
The good news about high blood pressure is that lifestyle changes can reduce your numbers and lower your risk — without taking drugs. Here are 12 effective ways to lower your blood pressure levels:
- Exercise more
- Lose weight if you’re over weight
- Cut back on sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Eat less sodium
- Stop smoking
- Eat less processed food
- Reduce excess stress
- Eat some dark chocolate
- Make sure to get good sleep
- Eat healthy high protein foods
- Drink less alcohol
- Consider cutting back on caffeine
By controlling the things you can, and following your doctor’s advice, you help to keep your blood pressure within normal limits and protect your kidneys.