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A Connection You Should Know About – Heart and Kidney Disease

By Tricia Haydon

It is challenging enough having chronic kidney disease (CKD), however include the all-too common co-morbidities that coincide with kidney disease and there is a lot to manage!

One of the common health problems that go along with kidney disease is heart disease. This can come in various forms, however sometimes the heart disease needs specific treatments either through different types of imaging or potentially more invasive procedures.

It is important for people with kidney and heart disease to be mindful of how any treatment may affect their kidney function. The following highlights some important information that can be helpful to discuss with your physician.

The Heart-Kidney Connection

(Read more about the heart-kidney connection https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/ kidney-disease/heart-disease)

The heart and kidneys work closely together and affect each other more than you might realize. The heart pumps blood filled with oxygen through all parts of your body. The kidneys clean the blood, removing waste products. It is important to know that having kidney disease can directly affect your chances of developing heart disease. Having heart disease can directly affect your chances of developing kidney disease.1

Know your Kidney Numbers

 Kidney numbers include Serum Creatinine (SCr) and estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR). Both of these numbers measure kidney function and how well your kidneys are doing their job.

Serum Creatinine is a waste product in your blood that comes from muscle activity. SCr is normally removed from your blood by your kidneys, but when kidney function slows down, the creatinine level rises.1 A blood test is done to measure your SCr levels.

eGFR tells how much kidney function you have remaining. eGFR is calculated by your doctor based on your SCr levels, age, race, and gender.

It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about your kidney numbers and what they mean to you.

Who is at Risk?

 Along with CKD, you are at increased risk for Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) if you have:

 • Diabetes

• Hypertension

• Heart disease

 • Older age

What is Acute Kidney Injury?

Acute Kidney Injury is defined as an abrupt (within hours) decrease in kidney function, which encompasses both injury (structural damage) and impairment (loss of function).2

Acute Kidney Injury can lead to health problems like:

 • Irreversible damage to kidneys

• Longer hospitalizations • Long-term dialysis

• Higher risk of death

 Kidney Kindness in the Cath Lab

Some patients with heart disease will need to be treated with imaging or interventional procedures in a cardiac cath lab. For patients with kidney disease, the contrast dye used for visualization during interventional cardiology procedures can be hard on the kidneys—even causing Acute Kidney Injury (AKI). To protect CKD patients’ kidneys, and minimize the risk of further kidney damage, professional medical societies recommend a 3-step approach:

1. Screen for CKD. You may have reduced kidney function and not know it.

2. Hydrate. This may help protect your kidneys during your cath lab procedure.

3. Reduce contrast dye. Lowering the amount of dye delivered to the patient may reduce the risk of AKI.

If you have or are at risk for kidney disease, your doctor should take special steps to protect your kidneys when you are having cardiac procedures. If you know you have chronic kidney disease, be your own best advocate and talk to your doctor before any cardiac procedure is done to ensure your healthcare team is doing everything they can to protect your current kidney function and not cause further damage or AKI.

You and your doctor can be thinking about the health of both organs: your heart AND your kidneys. To learn more about how to protect your kidneys during cardiac procedures, visit Ospreymed.com/patient.

Tricia Haydon works with Osprey Medical to develop educational and awareness initiatives as part of Osprey’s Be Kind to Kidneys Program. Osprey Medical’s vision is to make angiography safer for patients with Chronic Kidney Disease.

References: Information provided should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment considerations.

1 National Kidney Foundation. www.kidney.org

2 Clin Biochem Rev. 2016 May; 37(2): 85–98.

3 Levine GN, et al. Circulation. 2011; 124:e574-e651