By Karen Stokes
March is National Kidney Month, a time when communities across the country raise awareness about kidney disease. In 2020 the focus is on the link between high blood pressure and kidney disease.
High-risk populations include those with diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and family history of kidney disease. According to the National Chronic Kidney Disease Fact Sheet from 2017, diabetes is the number one cause of kidney disease and high blood pressure is the second leading cause; according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 3 with diabetes and 1 in 5 with high blood pressure have kidney disease.
The prevalence of high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) in African Americans in the United States is among the highest in the world. More than 40% of non-Hispanic African American men and women have high blood pressure according to the American Heart Association.
Knowing your numbers is important and can keep you aware of the status of your blood pressure. If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, you should monitor your blood pressure regularly.
If you have high blood pressure, you’re at risk for chronic kidney disease, a serious condition that can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and death.
The good news is that you can help protect your kidneys by managing high blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute suggests these six healthy lifestyle habits.
-Take medications as prescribed. Your doctor may prescribe blood pressure-lowering medications that are effective in slowing the development of kidney disease.
-Aim for a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight can improve blood pressure readings.
-Select healthier food and beverage options. Focus on fruits and vegetables, lean meat, whole grains, and other heart-healthy foods.
-Try to quit smoking. If you smoke, take steps to quit.
-Get enough sleep. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
-Manage stress and make physical activity part of your routine. Consider healthy stress-reducing activities and get at least 30 minutes or more of physical activity each day.
Implementing these lifestyle strategies can help keep you healthier and protect your kidneys.