What is Hypertension?
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. For most people, a blood pressure of 140/90 or higher is considered abnormal.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls as the heart pumps out blood. Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure – an increase in the amount of force that blood places on blood vessels as it moves through the body.
Blood pressure test results are written with two numbers separated by a slash. The first number is called systolic blood pressure and it measures the blood pressure when the heart beats; the second number – diastolic blood pressure – measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats.
For most people, a blood pressure of 120/80 is considered normal, while anything over 140/90 is considered abnormal (hypertension).
Link between Hypertension and Kidney Disease
Hypertension can cause kidney disease and is an important cause of kidney failure in many countries. High blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the kidneys, reducing their ability to function properly. If the blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged, they may stop removing wastes and extra fluid from the body. Having extra fluid in blood vessels may then raise the blood pressure even more, creating a dangerous cycle.
But kidney disease can also cause high blood pressure, and when this happens the high blood pressure makes the kidneys deteriorate more quickly. About nine out of ten people with CKD stages 3-5 have high blood pressure. Hypertension is considered to be a leading cause of CKD.
What are symptoms of high blood pressure and kidney disease?
Hypertension has no initial symptoms but can lead to long-term disease and complications, including damage to the heart, eyes, and kidneys. The damage can happen gradually over many years, without you feeling it. In some cases of hypertension patients may experience headaches.
Kidney disease also does not have symptoms in the early stages. Read more about Chronic Kidney Disease.
High blood pressure is diagnosed over a series of blood pressure tests, measured with a blood pressure cuff. Hypertension is diagnosed id blood pressure is consistently over 140/90.
Kidney disease is diagnosed with urine and blood checks.
Can hypertension and kidney disease be prevented or slowed down?
Taking steps to lower blood pressure will help to slow or prevent kidney disease.
Blood pressure can be controlled with medication, as well as with a simple change of lifestyle.
Lifestyle changes include:
- Healthy eating – adopt Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – DASH which:
- Is low in fat and cholesterol
- Features fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products, fish, poultry and nuts
- Suggests less red meat, sweets, added sugars, and sugary beverages
- Is rich in nutrients, protein, and fiber
- Physical activity
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking
- Managing stress
Controlling the blood pressure with medication and lifestyle changes helps to protect the kidneys from further damage. This is why it is so important for people with high blood pressure to get tested for kidney disease.
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