Blood Pressure and Kidneys | How Does High Blood Pressure Hurt the Kidneys
The force with which heart pumps blood through the arteries is called
blood pressure. Its reading consists of two numbers; the systolic and the diastolic. The systolic
level is the measurement of the blood pressure while the heart is pumping and the diastolic is the
reading of the pressure when the heart is resting or between beats. There are two basic reasons for
high blood pressure or hypertension. The first reason is that normal amount of blood is moving at
increased pressure through arteries that have become narrowed due to plaque buildup or have become
hardened or stiffened. The second reason could be that an increased volume of blood is passing
through healthy arteries.
How Does High Blood Pressure Hurt the Kidneys?
If blood pressure is more than 120/80, then it is
considered to be higher than the normal range. Consistent high blood pressure is a dangerous
condition and can lead to various other complications. Blood vessels are directly harmed by
chronically uncontrolled blood pressure. They become weak throughout the body, particularly
those capillaries that are in the kidney nephrons. These are responsible for filtering the blood
of waste materials and to maintain fluid volume. Ultimately, the damage reaches to such an
extent that kidneys lose their ability to filter blood and to maintain proper blood volume. This
causes blood pressure to increase further. To make matters worse, kidney damage is not
detectable until it is in late stages.
It has been estimated that in one quarter cases of kidney
failure, the cause is high blood pressure. It has also been observed that age, race or cause of
kidney disease will not matter in the worsening of kidney damage if the blood level remains
high. Moreover, Caucasians have a little less chance of developing hypertension and its related
kidney damage as compared to African Americans for whom even a slightly higher than normal blood
pressure can lead to this complication. The same is true for diabetic patients as well who have
a greater risk of developing hypertension related kidney problems.
Since kidney damage does not become apparent until in its
later stage, it is essential for people with hypertension to keep a tight check on their blood
pressure. They must follow a healthy diet which includes consumption of a lot of fruits and
vegetables and less fatty foods that will increase their weight. Alcohol and sodium should be
taken in very limited amounts whereas smoking should be eliminated completely from their diet.
People with hypertension should also include some sort of physical activity in their daily
Besides these lifestyle changes, hypertensive patients can
also use medication to control their blood pressure. These medications include diuretics,
angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) both of
which slow down the progression of kidney damage along with lowering blood pressure. ACE
inhibitors are more effective in slowing kidney damage than ARBs in African Americans. Other
medications include beta-blockers and calcium-channel blockers.