Do you know about the heart-kidney connection? People whose kidneys have failed are three times as likely to have heart disease. And a new study suggests that people with kidney disease have the same level of risk for heart disease as those with diabetes or those who have previously had a heart attack. So what can you do to protect yourself? Plenty, actually. Here are some basic tips to to help keep both kidney and heart healthy.
1. Don’t smoke. There is nothing you can do that is more important in the prevention of both heart and kidney disease as stopping smoking. Smoking causes hardening of the arteries which causes both coronary artery disease and nephrosclerosis, or damage to the kidney’s filtering units. Smoking is also a risk factor for high blood pressure which can cause both heart and kidney disease.
2. Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure puts stress on the heart, causing enlargement and thickening of the heart. This ultimately leads to heart failure. High blood pressure causes damage to the blood vessels leading to the kidney filters (called glomeruli). Heart failure will complicate your chances of effectively performing dialysis or having a kidney transplant. ACE-inhibitors and ARB agents are high blood pressure drugs that are effective in treating both kidney disease and heart disease.
Get the other three tips after the break.
3. Eat a proper diet. This should be patterned after the DASH diet. The DASH diet encourages low salt intake with increases in vegetables and low fat dairy products. The DASH diet has been shown to lower blood pressure and help to maintain a healthy body weight. You may need to consult with a dietitian for specific eating recommendations.
4. Maintain a healthy body weight. This requires balancing calorie intake with exercise and activity. Each pound of fat accounts for approximately 4000 calories of food intake in excess of activity. Hence, to burn off a pound of fat you must exercise to 4,000 calories in excess of your intake. Ideal body weight is a Body Mass Index (BMI) less than 25. Overweight is between 25 and 30 and obesity is defined as a BMI in excess of 30.
5. Have your physician test you for both heart and kidney disease. If you know you have one, you should have yourself tested for the other.