When it comes to protecting your kidneys, one of the most important things you can do is keep your blood pressure in check. Close to 75 million Americans have high blood pressure—and many do not know it. High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is a silent condition: that means there are not usually any symptoms. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Untreated, high blood pressure can damage your heart, brain, and eyes, in addition to your kidneys.
Careful control of high blood pressure lowers the risk of developing problems. Sometimes, people with heart disease or kidney disease, or those who have had a stroke didn’t even know they had high blood pressure. That is why it’s so important to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, especially if you have a family history of high blood pressure or any other risk factors.
While the exact causes of high blood pressure are not known, your chances of developing high blood pressure may be increased if you:
have a family history of high blood pressure
are African American
have a high sodium diet (i.e. use a lot of table salt or eat a lot of packaged and fast foods)
use birth control pills
drink large amounts of alcohol
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, or controlling it if you have already been diagnosed. Making some of the lifestyle changes below can have a big impact on your overall health:
lose excess weight
cut down on salt
cut back on alcohol
try to reduce stress levels
If lifestyle changes do not control your blood pressure well enough, your doctor may prescribe medication to lower blood pressure. Some blood pressure lowering medicines may help to protect kidney function.
Remember, early detection and management of high blood pressure are the keys to living a healthier life.
For more information on high blood pressure and your kidneys click here.
Five Tips for Reducing Stress
Exercise regularly. Aim for 20-30 minutes 3 times a week. And walking counts!
Eat and drink sensibly. Limit your consumption of sugar and salt as well as alcohol and caffeine. Try to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
Take time to relax every day. Relaxing is more than just sitting back on your couch. Take 20-30 minutes a day and practice deep breathing, meditation or mental visualization.
Set realistic goals and expectations. It’s healthy to realize your limitations.
Get enough rest. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
Five Tips for Reducing Salt Intake
Stick to fresh foods. Packaged products, such as deli meats and frozen meals, are high in sodium. Stick to fresh fruits, vegetables and meats.
Make reading food labels a habit. Sodium content is always listed on food labels. Choose foods low in sodium and try to stick to the recommended limit of 1,500 mg to 2,400 mg a day.
Read menus carefully when dining out. You can request that your food be prepared without any added salt.
Drop the salt shaker. Flavor food with pepper and other herbs and spices instead of salt, and avoid spices and seasonings that contain added sodium such as garlic salt. Pick garlic powder instead.
If you have high blood pressure, cutting down on sodium can not only lower your blood pressure, but it can enhance your response to blood pressure medications.