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The Relationship Between Chronic Kidney Disease and Hypertension

Anna Sramek, RD
October 3, 2022
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When someone has chronic kidney disease (CKD), there are things we need to monitor to make sure our kidneys stay healthy. One of these things is our blood pressure. Hypertension (high blood pressure) can increase the risk of complications with chronic kidney disease. We will look at why chronic kidney disease and hypertension are related, and how we can manage these conditions to improve our health.

How are CKD and Hypertension Related?

The relationship between CKD and hypertension is interchangeable.

Hypertension Leads to Kidney Disease

When blood pressure is high and uncontrolled, it can damage blood vessels throughout the body and reduce blood flow to the kidneys. Hypertension also damages the filtration system in the kidneys, leading to decreased kidney function and more fluid retention. In return, this fluid retention increases blood pressure.

Kidney Disease Leads to Hypertension

Your kidneys play a key role in keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range. Diseased kidneys are less able to help regulate blood pressure. As a result, blood pressure will rise. And as blood pressure rises, it will put more pressure on your kidneys, making your kidney disease worse.

Understanding why CKD and hypertension are related gives us a chance to prevent further damage by changing our lifestyle, diet, and working with doctors for medication management. Below are important factors and tips to help improve our health.

Tips to Control Blood Pressure and Save the Kidneys

Measure Blood Pressure at Home

Understanding our blood pressure trends at home and what are causing fluctuations is important in managing our health, especially for our kidneys. Although our readings can come out normal when we see the doctor, one reading does not tell the whole story, since a person’s blood pressure varies from minute-to-minute. A blood pressure that varies widely may be harder to discover without measuring often, and could harm your kidneys without you even knowing.

Reduce Salt Intake

High intakes of salt and sodium are associated with higher blood pressure readings and worsening kidney function. Limit foods like:

  • Processed meats (sausages, deli meats)
  • Packaged/pre-made meals and snacks (frozen meals, chips, crackers)
  • Canned vegetables with added salt
  • Fast food

Eat Potassium-Rich Foods

If your potassium levels are normal, and you do not have kidney disease, choose more potassium-rich foods to help balance sodium levels in the blood and stabilize blood pressure. Choose foods like:

  • Dark, leafy greens (Spinach, kale, swiss chard)
  • Avocado
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans

Practice Healthy Habits and Manage Stress

This includes maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and having a regular exercise schedule. Even if we are eating our best diet, stress can wreak havoc on our blood pressure. Taking care of our stress is important not only for our kidneys but for the rest of our body. Some things you can do to help reduce your stress:

  • Take deep breaths
  • Go for a walk
  • Spend time with loved ones
  • Take a break during a stressful task
  • Practice gratitude

Takeaways

Kidney health and blood pressure are directly related. We can reduce kidney complications by eating healthfully, limiting salt and sodium, and leading a healthy, active lifestyle. If you need any guidance or support on meeting your nutrition and lifestyle goals, talk with your doctor or dietitian. Our care team is always ready to help improve your health!

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