Take the Pressure Off!

Eight Ways to Lower Your Risk of Hypertension.

Each year during National Kidney Month, organizations, companies, and communities focus on raising awareness about kidney disease, as well as its many causes and complications. For 2021, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is calling attention to the dangers of high blood pressure, as well as ways to prevent and/or keep it in check.

High blood pressure (hypertension) overexerts artery walls throughout the body, which can damage blood vessels over time. The blood vessels in our kidneys help filter wastes, toxins, and excess fluid from our bloodstream, and if they are compromised, so is the filtering process.

For these and other reasons, high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of kidney failure, as well as an indicator of stroke and heart disease risk. But there is good news. With a bit of attention and a change in habits, hypertension is controllable, reversible, and/or preventable. Read on for eight helpful ways to keep high blood pressure from getting the better of you.

  • Get to Know Your Numbers!
    Get to Know Your Numbers!
    High blood pressure doesn’t have clear-cut symptoms, and it often goes unnoticed as a result. Chronic kidney disease patients sometimes crash into dialysis after years of unchecked and/or undiagnosed hypertension. Getting your blood pressure checked by a doctor and understanding what blood pressure readings mean are easy ways to start getting it under control.
  • Take Your Medicine
    Take Your Medicine
    If you’re on blood pressure medication (or any medications prescribed by your doctor), it’s important to take them as directed. By decreasing blood pressure, these medications may also help prevent or slow the development of kidney disease and other problems.
  • Don’t Wait, Unweight!
    Don’t Wait, Unweight!
    Obesity and/or excess weight puts additional strain on your body and organs, often contributing to high blood pressure. Watching your weight and losing even a small amount can help improve blood pressure readings and overall health.
  • Mind Your Menu
    Mind Your Menu
    Food and drink choices have an impact on blood pressure. Foods that contribute to high blood pressure include salty items such as cold cuts, soups, pizza, pickled foods, and canned tomato products. Sugary foods, foods high in trans or saturated fats, and alcoholic beverages should also be avoided or consumed in moderation. On the flip side, eating healthy can help regulate blood pressure. Heart-healthy choices include citrus, salmon, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, pistachios, broccoli, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Be a Quitter
    Be a Quitter
    For the sake of your heart and kidney health, consider dropping those cigarettes like a bad habit. Not only does smoking cigarettes increase blood pressure, it also raises your heart rate and promotes blood clot formation and fatty deposits in the arteries. Smokers are four times more likely to develop renal failure than nonsmokers.
  • Get Your ZZZZZZs
    Get Your ZZZZZZs
    Getting a good night’s sleep feels amazing and healthy sleep patterns also help keep blood pressure steady. Some studies1 have also shown that not getting enough sleep can make people more prone to high blood pressure.
  • Less Stress, More Fitness. Repeat.
    Less Stress, More Fitness. Repeat.
    Taking some time each day to engage in a stress-free activity gives your mind and your body a break. Try gardening, reading, crafting, or, best of all … exercise. Exercising releases endorphins and helps relieve stress. And relieving stress helps lower blood pressure. Exercise also makes your heart stronger, which means it pumps blood more effectively and brings blood pressure down naturally.
  • Consider Going Home
    Consider Going Home
    If you’re an end stage renal disease (ERSD) patient receiving incenter hemodialysis therapy, the odds are good you also have high blood pressure. Statistically, about 86% of incenter hemodialysis patients have hypertension.2 With more frequent home hemodialysis, fluid and toxin removal is closer to that of a healthy kidney, which works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This helps dialysis patients achieve a better balance. In fact, less dependence on blood pressure medication3 is one of the many benefits of more frequent home hemodialysis.
  1. Calhoun, David A, and Susan M Harding. “Sleep and hypertension.” Chest vol. 138,2 (2010): 434-43. doi:10.1378/chest.09-2954
  2. Stern, Aaron et al. “High blood pressure in dialysis patients: cause, pathophysiology, influence on morbidity, mortality and management.” Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR vol. 8,6 (2014): ME01-4. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/8253.4471
  3. Kotanko P, Garg AX, Depner T, et al. Effects of frequent hemodialysis on blood pressure: Results from the randomized frequent hemodialysis network trials. Hemodial Int. 2015;19(3):386-401.
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