Home Kidney health Prevent Kidney Failure by Managing High Blood Pressure, Diabetes and Obesity

Prevent Kidney Failure by Managing High Blood Pressure, Diabetes and Obesity

written by Vidya Sury March 14, 2024
Prevent Kidney Failure. World Kidney Day

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Routine screening is necessary for all adults to prevent kidney failure, as chronic kidney disease has no symptoms in its early stages.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a progressive loss in kidney function over months or years. Each of your kidneys has about a million tiny filters, called nephrons. If nephrons are damaged, they stop working. For a while, healthy nephrons can take on the extra work. But if the damage continues, more and more nephrons shut down. After a certain point, the nephrons that are left cannot filter your blood well enough to keep you healthy.

When kidney function falls below a certain point, it is called kidney failure. Kidney failure affects your whole body, and can make you feel very ill. Untreated kidney failure can be life-threatening.

While anybody can develop chronic kidney disease (CKD), individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other chronic diseases are particularly at risk and need to ensure they are screened regularly and manage their health condition well, says an expert from global health system Cleveland Clinic, speaking ahead of World Kidney Day on March 14.

Globally, around one in 10 people have some form of CKD, according to the International Society of Nephrology and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations, which jointly organize World Kidney Day.

With CKD, a person often doesn’t experience symptoms until they have advanced disease, so screening tests are vital for early detection of disease or assurance that the kidneys are functioning normally and prevent kidney failure.

In the case of long-standing chronic kidney disease, the damage is often irreversible, but if kidney damage is caught early, we can take steps to reverse, prevent, or delay any further damage. This is why simple non-invasive kidney tests are included in annual health check-ups for adults, and they are particularly important for people with a family history of kidney disease or those with chronic health conditions.

Prevent Kidney Failure World Kidney Day

Prevent kidney failure

Left unchecked, hypertension – or high blood pressure – and diabetes are the most common causes of kidney disease and end-stage renal disease. Obesity raises the risk of both hypertension and diabetes but is also known to be an independent risk factor for chronic kidney disease.

While the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity is increasing globally, the good news is that many new and highly effective therapies for managing these conditions have been developed.

In clinical trials, some newer medications, such as SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists, which are used to treat people with diabetes and obesity, appear to have benefits for the kidneys independent of weight loss and blood sugar control. The recent FLOW trial to establish whether Semaglutide had a positive effect on renal function ended prematurely as it had met its objective. The goal of the study was to see if Semaglutide can slow down the growth and worsening of chronic kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes.

Prevent kidney failure kidney scale model in hand

Tips for Good Kidney Health

In addition to managing chronic conditions and undergoing recommended screening tests, there are lifestyle changes that individuals can implement to improve their kidney health. In general, the guidelines for maintaining heart health also apply to kidney health, and these steps can also contribute to better management of diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.

Recommendations for kidney health include exercising regularly, getting enough sleep – aiming for seven to eight hours each night – not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and maintaining a healthy weight. In addition, follow a heart-healthy eating plan such as the Mediterranean diet, which is focused on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats, and olive oil, or the low-sodium DASH diet.

Restricting sodium is important, especially for those with high blood pressure or those who have kidney disease, and the recommended consumption is a maximum of 2g of sodium per day for these patients.

The salt-blood pressure connection

What is the DASH Diet?

The DASH eating plan requires no special foods and instead provides daily and weekly nutritional goals. This plan recommends:

  • Eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
  • Including fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
  • Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
  • Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes plant-based foods and healthy fats. You eat mostly veggies, fruits, and whole grains. Extra virgin olive oil is the main source of fat. The Mediterranean Diet can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and many other chronic conditions. You can customize the diet to suit your needs with the help of a dietician. 

This year’s theme for World Kidney Day is Kidney Health for All,  Advancing equitable access to care and optimal medication practice. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is estimated to affect more than 850 million people worldwide and resulted in over 3.1 million deaths in 2019. Presently, kidney disease ranks as the 8th leading cause of death, and if left unaddressed, it is projected to be the 5th leading cause of years of life lost by 2040. Source

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