“High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure in the United States after diabetes.” (1)
We at Grassroots Health are passionate about raising awareness of chronic diseases that affect Americans. That being said, we will dedicate weekly material over the next two months for highlighting many types of common kidney diseases and their health risks. Today we continue our series by discussing one of the main causes of kidney disorders: High Blood Pressure.
In order to get a better understanding of how this chronic disease affects the kidneys, let us recap: The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs who find their home in the lower back just below the ribcage. These organs are responsible for filtering close to “200 quarts of blood each day, generating about 2 quarts of excess fluid, salts, and waste products that are excreted as urine.” (2) Figuratively speaking, the kidneys resemble a trash-removal service for the body. In a scenario where their function shuts down or even slows, waste begins to build up. If this occurs and persists, it has the potential of becoming life-threatening.
The Effects of High Blood Pressure
Over its course, high blood pressure is responsible for damaging small blood vessels throughout the body. “This can reduce the blood supply to important organs like the kidneys. High blood pressure also damages the tiny filtering units in your kidneys. As a result, the kidneys may stop removing wastes and extra fluid from your blood. The extra fluid in your blood vessels may build up and raise blood pressure even more.” (3)
In addition to being a leading cause of kidney disease, high blood pressure can also become a complication that can lead to forms of heart disease. Your kidneys play a key role in keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range. Diseased kidneys are less able to help regulate blood pressure.” (3)
The Inevitable Health Risks
The National Institute of Health has found that “the rate of kidney failure due to high blood pressure increased 7.7 percent from 2000 to 2010.” (1) That being said, because the body cannot survive without properly functioning kidneys, high blood pressure is not a disease to be considered lightly. If you have been diagnosed with this condition we strongly recommend that you follow up with a medical provider as often as they request, so that you can be monitored by a professional for any signs of damage to your kidneys. Some of the signs and symptoms of kidney disease for those managing high blood pressure to be on the lookout for include (1):
- Appetite loss
- Drowsiness or feeling tired
- Trouble concentrating
- Sleep problems
- Increased or decreased urination
- Generalized itching or numbness
- Dry skin
- Weight loss
- Darkened skin
- Muscle cramps
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Affordable Healthcare Solutions
Your medical provider can test for kidney disease by measuring kidney function with certain blood tests and urine tests. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or any form of kidney disease we recommend that you follow up with your physician so that they can monitor your conditions and work to prevent a life-threatening situation from occurring. If you are uninsured or have health insurance that you cannot afford, there are still some affordable healthcare options available.
Grassroots Labs is a company that we partner with in the mission of creating healthcare options that are affordable, convenient and efficient for everyone. On their website GrassrootsLabs.io, they have created an online laboratory test store where individuals can browse a large variety of lab tests that are significantly discounted from the traditional mark-up rates that you find at hospitals and doctors offices. Included in their store is an affordable lab test panel for kidney function and an affordable lab test panel for high blood pressure. Their online store also features affordable panels and individual lab tests used for diagnosing and managing other chronic diseases such as diabetes, thyroid disease, and liver disease. These are just a few examples of the many tests they provide for managing chronic diseases and for meeting a wide variety of healthcare needs. For a full biography of Grassroots Labs click here.
We cannot stress enough the importance of regularly monitoring overall health; which is why we strive to make this possible by finding innovative solutions to healthcare, such as telemedicine, that make it more affordable for people to access. In addition, by partnering with like-minded companies such as Grassroots Labs we are able to bridge the gaps between healthcare services by making them valuable to everyone. Stay tuned, next week we will continue in this series on kidney disease by discussing Glomerulonephritis.
Sources:3. National Kidney Foundation - High Blood Pressure and Chronic Kidney Disease