Hypertension is elevated blood pressure. There are usually no symptoms, so people often don’t even know they have it, unless they visit a doctor regularly. Unmanaged, it can lead to heart attack and stroke, but it can also lead to other serious health issues, such as kidney disease. In fact, hypertension is the second leading cause, after diabetes, of kidney disease and kidney failure (end-stage renal disease).
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs when your kidneys experience damage slowly, over time, building up wastes in your body. It affects 1 out of 7 Americans. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, kidneys filter the waste out of your blood. Kidneys are made up of nephrons, each with a filter (glomerulus) and a tubule. The glomeruli can filter about a half cup of blood per minute. The tubules then transport the waste to the bladder and the needed substances back into the blood. If your blood pressure is too high, it may hinder this process.
“The more exposed your kidneys are, over time, to hypertension and other factors, then the more likely the glomeruli will fail sooner than they otherwise might have,” says nephrologist Dr. Amy Hogan-Moulton, Vice Chair, Saratoga Hospital Department of Medicine and member of Saratoga Hospital Medical Group – Nephrology. “Controlling blood pressure will delay progressive CKD. Only 0.2% of those with chronic kidney disease progress to dialysis, but that’s still about 800,000 people in this country.”
Lifestyle modifications can help with hypertension and prevent kidney disease, says Dr. Hogan-Moulton. “Adhering to a low sodium diet and losing weight will reduce your blood pressure. Even losing 2.2 pounds reduces your systolic blood pressure by one milliliter of mercury. If you can lose just 10 pounds, that can make a significant difference in cardiac and stroke risk. It matters.”
Dr. Hogan-Moulton also suggests purchasing your own blood pressure cuff so you can check your levels at home regularly. If you are not able to buy one, try reaching out to your primary care provider or other medical offices to arrange regular blood pressure checks.
“At the end of the day, the best gift you have is your health,” says Dr. Hogan-Moulton. “Watch your blood pressure numbers, and if they are high, you may also want to have your doctor check your kidney function. We can help you with that. It’s a privilege to care for people, so you can live the quality of life you want to live.”
Saratoga Hospital Medical Group – Nephrology focuses on diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases that affect kidney function. Since many of these are chronic, nephrologists also work with patients to help them manage their conditions and prevent them from progressing. Offices are located in Saratoga Springs, Malta, and Glens Falls.
Monday – Thursday: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Friday: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Extended hours, by appointment:
Monday: 7:30 AM – 8:00 AM
Tuesday and Thursday: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM