WHAT IS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls as the heart pumps out blood. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is an increase in the amount of force that blood places on blood vessels as it moves through the body. Factors that can increase this force include higher blood volume due to extra fluid in the blood and blood vessels that are narrow, stiff, or clogged.
An example of a blood pressure reading is 120/80 or “120 over 80.” The top number is called the systolic pressure and represents the pressure as the heart beats and pushes blood through the blood vessels. The bottom number is called the diastolic pressure and represents the pressure as blood vessels relax between heartbeats. Most people without chronic health conditions have a normal blood pressure if it stays below 120/80. Prehypertension is a systolic pressure of 120 to 139 or a diastolic pressure of 80 to 89. High blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 140/90 or above.
High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure in the United States after diabetes.
DIAGNOSING HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE & KIDNEY DISEASE
Your doctor can diagnosis high blood pressure when multiple blood pressure tests—often repeated over several visits—show that a systolic blood pressure is consistently above 140 or a diastolic blood pressure is consistently above 90. Kidney disease is diagnosed with urine and blood tests.
HOW DOES HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE EFFECT THE KIDNEYS?
High blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the kidneys, reducing their ability to work properly. When the force of blood flow is high, blood vessels stretch so blood flows more easily. Eventually, this stretching scars and weakens blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the kidneys. If the kidneys’ blood vessels are damaged, they may stop removing wastes and extra fluid from the body. Extra fluid in the blood vessels may then raise blood pressure even more, creating a dangerous cycle. High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure in the United States after diabetes.
KEEPING KIDNEYS HEALTHY WHEN YOU HAVE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
The best way to slow or prevent kidney disease from high blood pressure is to take steps to lower blood pressure. These steps include a combination of medication and lifestyle changes, such as
- healthy eating
- physical activity
- maintaining a healthy weight
- quitting smoking
- managing stress
No matter what the cause of the kidney disease, high blood pressure can increase damage to the kidneys. People with kidney disease should keep their blood pressure below 140/90.