Diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) cause damage to both the heart and kidneys. So if you have heart disease, then it is likely that you have kidney disease and vice-versa. Many people don’t experience severe symptoms until their kidney or heart disease is quite advanced, but there are some warning signs. Could you be ignoring them?
The National Kidney Foundation shares 5 clues that your kidney or heart may be in trouble:
- Puffy eyes. If your eyes are consistently swollen, especially in the morning, take note. This has been linked with kidney and heart disease. Because puffy eyes are linked with many other conditions, often kidney disease and heart disease are overlooked.
- High blood pressure or hypertension. High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes and chronic kidney disease. Controlling high blood pressure by losing excess weight, exercising, not smoking, cutting back on salt intake and taking high blood pressure medications reduces the risk of these complications. Even borderline high blood pressure, or pre-hypertension, should be taken seriously, as it can inflict kidney damage.
- Swelling around your extremities. The kidneys filter wastes from the blood and remove excess water from the body via urine. When the kidneys aren’t doing their job, this fluid can stay in the system instead of being excreted. Swelling around the hands, feet, and ankles may be associated with kidney or heart failure and shouldn’t be dismissed.
- Protein or blood in the urine. Urinalysis or urine testing is used to look for abnormalities such as an excess amount of protein, blood, pus, bacteria or sugar. A urine test can help to detect a variety of kidney and urinary tract disorders, including chronic kidney disease, diabetes, bladder infections and kidney stones. A trace of one type of protein, albumin in urine (albuminuria) is an early sign of chronic kidney disease. Persistent amounts of albumin and other proteins in the urine (proteinuria) indicate kidney damage. The presence of albumin is also a risk factor for cardiovascular events and death.
- High cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in your blood. Too much cholesterol can build up in your blood vessels, narrowing vessels and leading to a blockage. When a blockage occurs in your heart vessels, it is called coronary heart disease and can cause a heart attack. In people with chronic kidney disease (CKD), heart disease is very common. It is suggested that people with CKD have cholesterol labs drawn at least yearly. Your doctor may want to do them more frequently if something has changed with your health.
Anyone can develop chronic kidney disease at any age. However, some people are more likely than others to develop kidney disease due to their age, racial and ethnic background, and/or family history of heart disease, kidney failure, diabetes or high blood pressure. For more information about kidney disease and heart disease, visit the A-Z Guide.