It’s estimated that kidney disease affects more than 30 million Americans. Also called renal disease, kidney disease is a general term for damage that decreases the function of the kidney.
Human kidneys filter approximately 120 to 150 quarts of blood every day to produce about one to two quarts of urine. Healthy kidneys not only remove waste and water, they also help to:
• Control blood pressure
• Keep bones healthy
• Make red blood cells
• Balance minerals in your blood, like sodium, phosphorus and potassium
Symptoms of Kidney Disease
The kidneys are remarkable in their ability to compensate for problems with their function. This explains why chronic kidney disease may progress without symptoms for an extended period of time until only very minimal kidney function is left.
Signs and symptoms of kidney disease include:
• Need to urinate, particularly at night
• Fluid retention
• High blood pressure
• Fatigue and weakness
• Decreased appetite
• Nausea and vomiting
• Itching, easy bruising and pale skin from anemia
• Numbness in the feet and hands
• Chest pain from inflammation around the heart
• Decreased sexual interest
The Kidney-Heart Connection
The heart and kidneys work together in a synergistic way. The heart pumps blood with oxygen throughout the body, including the kidneys. The kidneys clean the blood, removing waste and excess water. If the kidneys are not functioning properly, the blood can accumulate too much waste and water. And, when the heart does not pump efficiently, the kidneys don’t have the oxygen filled blood they need to perform their many functions. With poorly functioning kidneys, the heart must work harder. In other words, a healthy cardiovascular system is necessary for your kidneys to do their job.
Cardiovascular Disease And Kidney Disease
Researchers are currently studying the complex link between kidney disease and cardiovascular disease. There is conclusive evidence that having kidney disease can significantly increase the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Likewise, cardiovascular disease can increase the risk for kidney disease. Interestingly, the two conditions share many risk factors, including diabetes and hypertension.
Keeping Heart And Kidneys Healthy
There are many things that all of us can do to maintain kidney and heart health.
• Stay physically active
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Reduce intake of fat and sodium
• Keep blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol under control
• Reduce stress
• Don’t smoke
“It’s also important to know that kidney disease often remains silent until it is advanced,” said Dr. Ilene Miller, nephrologist and internist with Northwell Health.
Learn more about kidney disease. At Katz Institute for Women’s Health. Visit the website at northwell.edu/KIWH or call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.