What do my kidneys do for me?
Your kidneys act as intelligent filters: their main functions are to clean
toxins and wastes out of your blood, to maintain body fluid volume
and composition, and to secrete hormones which help red blood
cell production. Because of this, your kidneys play a central role in
regulating blood pressure and balancing important electrolytes
which maintain your heart’s rhythm.
Did you know?
Your kidneys receive 1000-1200ml of blood per minute, which is an
enormous amount compared to their small size: this represents about
20% of your blood volume, although they represent only about 0.5%
of your body weight!
What happens if my kidneys stop functioning?
If your kidneys stop functioning normally, wastes will accumulate
and intoxicate the body. This is known as Chronic Kidney Disease
(CKD). CKD is identified by a progressive loss in renal function over
a period of months or years. People with late-stage kidney disease
will need dialysis or transplantation to replace the kidneys’ bloodcleaning
Is Chronic Kidney Disease very common?
Unfortunately, it is becoming common. In urbanized countries
where unhealthy eating habits, increased body fat and sedentary
lifestyle have become the norm, chronic kidney disease has risen
in prevalence. As an example, in the United State over the last ten
years we’ve seen a 30% increase: now nearly 1 in 7 people has kidney
Why does kidney disease increase the risk of heart disease?
If you have kidney disease, you have a three times higher risk of heart
disease and premature death. Many people are unaware that kidney
dysfunction greatly increases the risk of developing cardiovascular
disease, which can lead to an event such as a heart attack or stroke.
When your kidneys don’t work properly, waste products build up in
your blood, and your body’s hormones are disturbed. Those changes
can affect how your heart and blood vessels work. The kidneys help
to maintain your body’s chemical balance which in turn plays an
important role in maintaining healthy blood pressure.
If your kidneys aren’t working properly your blood pressure can rise.
If high blood pressure is left unchecked, it tends to thicken the blood
vessel walls causing blood vessels to narrow. Severe, uncontrolled
blood pressure weakens the heart and eventually causes kidney failure.
Did you know?
Many people with chronic kidney disease suffer a heart attack or a
stroke before they even know that they have kidney disease!
What can I do to reduce my risk of both kidney disease and
Healthy lifestyle choices can help to improve your overall health
and thereby lower your risk of kidney disease and heart disease. The
following healthy lifestyle choices are a great way to start:
• Don’t smoke ! If you smoke, quitting now is the most important
step you can take for your heart health!
• Maintain a healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar
• Maintain a healthy weight. Check with your doctor to learn more
about body mass index and to find out what’s right for you
• Eat a healthy diet. Avoid saturated fats and excess salt
• Drink plenty of water and fluids to keep hydrated, but only drink
alcohol in moderation
• Try to get 30 mins of exercise, 4 to 5 times a week. Just a half-hour
of walking each day will make a big difference!
What else can I do if I’m at risk?
Early detection is the safest bet! We now know that kidney
dysfunction is a risk factor for heart disease, and that heart disease
is a risk factor for kidney dysfunction, so if you think you have one of
these, it’s very important that you get tested for both !
The good news is that with early detection and treatment, kidney
disease can be slowed down before it progresses to kidney failure.
And likewise with heart disease, with early detection, the risk factors
which could lead to heart failure can also be monitored and reduced.
If think you are at risk, please see your doctor to discuss how to
Protect your kidneys and save your heart !