Kidneys & High Blood Pressure

Published on: 03/14/2023

Did you know that in the United States, high blood pressure (hypertension) is the second
leading cause of chronic kidney disease, just behind diabetes?

High Blood Pressure Defined

One of the most critical functions of the heart is to pump blood constantly throughout the
body. Blood that is low in oxygen is pumped toward the lungs through the veins, where
the blood is reoxygenated. The heart then pumps the reoxygenated blood through the
arteries and reaches the body’s muscles and cells.

Blood pressure is the force that moves blood through the circulatory system. Although the line
between normal and high blood pressure is not clearly defined and depends on many
individual variables, most healthcare providers agree that a blood pressure of around
120/80 is ideal for a healthy patient. Normal blood pressure readings are below 130/80,
and high blood pressure is often defined as having a continual blood pressure of 140/90
or above.

What do the top and bottom numbers mean?

There are two measurements used to measure blood pressure. The systolic pressure,
or the top number, indicates how much pressure is exerted against the walls of your
artery when the heart beats. The diastolic reading, or the bottom number, indicates the
pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between each beat.

How does it affect the kidneys?

High blood pressures cause the blood vessels in the kidneys to narrow and reduce
blood flow. This lack of blood flow prevents kidneys from effectively removing waste and
fluid from the body. When this happens, extra fluid is stored in the blood vessels,
creating a dangerous cycle that raises blood pressure even more. High blood pressure
does not cause any physical symptoms. Therefore, it is vital patients have regular blood
pressure screening for early detection.

How can I prevent damage to my kidneys from high blood pressure?

Fortunately, having high blood pressure is not a death sentence. There are many
lifestyle changes patients can incorporate to lower their risk naturally. These changes
include consuming a healthy diet low in sodium and consuming vegetables such as dark
leafy greens, beets, and oats. Losing weight if you have excess weight to lose, having good sleep habits, exercising regularly, and taking prescribed medications
for high blood pressure will reduce your risk. Although these changes may seem
modest, they can have a significant effect on not only your blood pressure but your
overall heart health.

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Meet Heather
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Although I’ve been a dietitian for more than 20 years, it’s the past few years that have convinced me to take control of my own health by changing the way I eat. So many chronic illnesses can be corrected or prevented through good nutrition. I am thankful to have the opportunity to walk with people in my community, Beaufort, SC and beyond, through their own journeys as they reclaim their health.

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