Whose is at risk?
Thanks for joining me for Part 2 of “Kidney Disease and High Blood Pressure”. In Part 1, we explained what blood pressure is and how if left untreated high blood pressure can lead to kidney damage. In today’s article, I want to dive into risk factors and then in Part 3 we will talk about treatment options.
Who is at risk for high blood pressure and kidney disease?
Our friends at the American Heart Association divide risk factors into two main categories:
- Risk factors related to who you are
- Modifiable risk factors
Risk factors related to who you are, will be factors over which you have little control as you can’t change who you are – right? Some examples of these risk factors would be:
- Age – the older you are the higher your blood pressure is likely to be. This is likely because as you age your blood vessels become less flexible and can harden and stiffen (refer back to Part 1 for the explanation of blood pressure). In some rare cases children can have high blood pressure.
- Gender – Until age 65 men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women. But over the age of 65, women are more likely than men to have high blood pressure.
- Family history – you are at a higher risk for developing high blood pressure if your parents or other close relatives have high blood pressure.
- Race – African Americans are at a higher risk for developing high blood pressure than any other race or ethnic group in the USA. Adding to the issue, the severity of the illness may be worse and the medications may be less effective.
- Chronic kidney disease – as discussed in Part 1, if left untreated high blood pressure can cause kidney damage, but if you already have kidney disease, this could lead to high blood pressure. This is because one of the kidneys functions is to regulate blood pressure by secreting the hormone aldosterone.
Modifiable risk factors are factors that you can change. Some examples are:
- Smoking and tobacco use – using tobacco products raises your blood pressure and overtime can result in damage to your blood vessels. Even for non-smokers, exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk for heart disease. Giving up smoking is a challenge but you should work with your healthcare team to stop smoking and you should minimize your exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Unhealthy diet – eating a diet that has too much salt, too many saturated and trans fats and too much sugar can increase the risk for high blood pressure. Eating too many calories in general is bad for your health and can lead to being overweight or obese. You should ensure that you eat a healthy and varied diet for overall health – we will have more information on this and healthy recipes to share over the coming months.
- Being overweight and obesity – carrying extra weight impacts your general health and it also puts a strain on your heart and circulatory system. Protect your heart and lower your risk for high blood pressure and other health issues by maintaining a healthy weight.
- Drinking too much alcohol – excess use of alcohol dramatically increase your blood pressure but it all raises your risk for heart failure, stroke, cancer, and more. Talk with your doctor about your alcohol use and try to avoid or minimize alcohol.
- High cholesterol – more than half of patients with high blood pressure also have high cholesterol which may increase their risk for heart attack and stroke. Work with your doctor and dietician to lower your cholesterol and protect your heart.
- Sleep apnea – this may increase your risk for developing high blood pressure. You may need to be referred to a sleep clinic for evaluation and help in dealing with sleep apnea.
- Lack of physical activity – physical activity is good for your heart and your circulatory system and can help manage your blood pressure. Lack of physical activity increases your risk. Find ways to build physical activity into your daily routine.
- Diabetes – most people with diabetes will go on to develop high blood pressure. Keeping your diabetes under control could lower your risk.
- Stress – too much stress can increase your blood pressure but it can also lead to behaviors that are unhealthy such as making bad food choices, drinking too much alcohol and more. Find healthy ways to manage and deal with your stress. It will be good for your blood pressure and almost everything else in your life!
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/UnderstandSymptomsRisks/Know-Your-Risk-Factors-for-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_002052_Article.jsp#.Wmue8ojwbIU
National Institutes of Health; National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd/high-blood-pressure