What is Kidney Disease?
The job of your kidneys is to filter waste products from your blood. If they get damaged, they are not able to do their job properly.
Kidney damage can cause a buildup of wastes in your body. This condition happens gradually over years, and is known as chronic kidney disease.
Most people don’t even know that there is a disease forming in their kidneys as the symptoms don’t appear until the disease has advanced.
As the kidney disease advances, you start to feel tired and sick. There are other problems that occur with late-stage kidney disease, like heart disease.
What are the Symptoms of Kidney Disease?
There are several symptoms that would indicate you are suffering from a chronic kidney disease. They are:
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep problems
- Swelling of ankles and feet
- Weakness and fatigue
- Persistent itching
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle cramps
- Chest pains
- Changes in urination
- Blood in urine
- Pain in the kidney area
- Changes in mental sharpness
- Metallic taste
The symptoms of a kidney disease are hard to diagnose as they are associated with a number of other conditions as well.
Who is at Risk of Getting Kidney Disease?
There is no hard and fast rule of someone getting kidney disease. But there are a few factors that can increase the possibility of you acquiring this disease.
You are more likely to get a chronic kidney disease if you have following risk factors:
- A pre-existing heart condition
- A family history of kidney problems
- High blood pressure
- Polycystic kidney disease
What is Heart Disease?
One of the leading causes of death in the United States is heart diseases.
Any disease or condition that affects your heart’s veins, arteries, and blood vessels comes under cardiovascular disease.
The job of your heart is to pump blood to the other parts of the body. If there is some sort of damage to the heart, it is not able to fulfill the body’s need for blood.
The problems often start in the blood vessels of your heart. These problems are:
- Plaque Buildup – obstructs the blood flow to your heart
- Blood clots – blocks your vessels and prevent blood from flowing
- Heart attack – due to lack of oxygen and blood
What are the Symptoms of Heart Disease?
Following symptoms indicate buildup of plaque in your blood vessels:
- Angina or chest pain
- Leg pain
- Numbness in legs and arms
The symptoms of a heart attack are different in every person. Some of them are:
- Chest pains
- Heavy sweating
- Pain in the left or both arms
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting or nausea
- Jaw or neck pain
Women exhibit different symptoms of heart attack as compared to men.
Who is at Risk of Getting Heart Disease?
There are several factors that contribute towards you getting heart disease:
- Advancing age
- A family history of heart disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Lack of exercise
- Poor diet
The Link Between Heart Disease and Kidney Disease
There is a significant link between kidney disease and heart disease. Studies show that people who suffer from a kidney disease are 20 times more likely to develop a heart condition.
Here are many factors that contribute towards chronic kidney disease leading to heart disease.
If you suffer from advanced chronic kidney disease, there are several certain minerals, like salt and potassium, whose levels your body is unable to control.
An excess of salt in your diet can cause high blood pressure or hypertension. Too much potassium in your body can lead you to have an abnormal heart rhythm.
How Can High Blood Pressure Affect Your Kidneys and Heart?
The pressure with which the arteries pump blood around your body is known as blood pressure. The pressure of your blood depends on the needs of your body, like when you are exercising, your blood pressure increases; while it is at its lowest when you are sleeping.
Your blood pressure can also increase due to nervousness, activity, excitement, or anxiety.
There is a close relationship between your blood pressure and your kidney function. Hypertension or high blood pressure can cause damage to your kidneys.
When you have hypertension, the blood vessels in your kidneys become narrow and thicken. Due to the damaged blood vessels, kidneys also get damaged and release an enzyme in your body, known as renin.
That causes your body to hold on to the water in salt instead of passing them on to your urine. That water, salt, and renin cause your blood pressure to increase.
The same goes for your heart. Hypertension puts pressure on your heart to beat faster, which can cause damage. That damage can lead to a number of heart diseases.
How can Diabetes Affect Your Kidneys and Heart?
Diabetes is a disease in which the body doesn’t either produce enough or stops producing insulin for your body. Insulin is a hormone that manages the sugar levels of your body.
There are two forms of diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the insulin production in your body by your pancreas is stopped completely. People suffering from type 1 diabetes require a daily dose of insulin injections.
The second form – type 2 diabetes, is more common. In this type, the pancreasdoes not create enough insulin to meet your body’s demands. This type of diabetes can be controlled through oral medications.
Diabetes is a tricky disease as it damages the filters of your kidneys. This can lead to diabetic nephropathy or diabetic kidney disease.
One in three people who have diabetes develop diabetic kidney disease.
Diabetes can have an effect on your bladder as well. The damage to the bladder causes you to have difficulty in urinating, which puts pressure on your kidneys. That pressure can cause the urine to flow back to your kidneys, causing you to have kidney damage and scarring.
Apart from the kidney damage, diabetes can also lead you to have other serious medical conditions, like eye or nerve damage.
Diabetes is also a leading cause of many heart diseases.
How can you Diagnose Kidney Disease?
There are several tests your doctor can perform to diagnose if you are suffering from a kidney disease. These tests are:
If your kidneys are damaged, your urine will have a protein known as albumin. A urine test is done to assess the amount of albumin in your urine.It can also detect if there are any abnormal cells in your urine and determine the concentration of electrolytes.
Blood tests such as GFR (glomerular filtration rate), creatinine, and BUN can confirm if you are suffering from a kidney disease. These tests are used to see the amount of waste products are built up in your blood.
There are several other methods or tests that can be used to see the extent of damage to your kidneys. They are:
- Kidney biopsy; and
- Abdominal ultrasound
How can you Diagnose a Heart Disease?
The tests used for the diagnosis of heart diseases are:
Electrocardiogram or ECG
An ECG or electrocardiogram is used to detect irregularities in the structure and rhythm of your heart.
An echo uses sound waves to create a moving picture of your heart. With that picture, the functions of the chambers and valves of your heart can be determined.
When you are exercising your heart works harder. A stress test can be used to see how your heart performs under pressure.
If there are any abnormalities in your heart, they can get uncovered with the help of a stress test.
A blood test is the most standard test done to see if you are suffering from a heart disease. It is used to check the level of cholesterol, sugar, proteins, and other fats present in your blood.
A chest X-ray can give a better image of your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. A chest X-ray can reveal if you have any signs of heart failure.
Other tests include:
- Cardiac catheterization
- Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scans
- Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
What are the Treatment Options for Kidney and Heart Disease?
If you are suffering from a kidney and heart disease, the main thing that you have to control is your blood pressure and diabetes.
Prevention is often proved to be the best medicine.
There are several medications that control these two conditions. Type 1 diabetes could be controlled with an insulin injection.
If the kidney disease is progressed, you may need to have dialysis until you can receive a kidney transplant.
Heart disease can be treated with surgeries or medication.
The main thing you need to focus on is keeping a healthy lifestyle. The best way to keep these diseases from progressing is to exercise daily and follow a healthy diet.
The patients suffering from kidney and heart diseases will have to make serious changes in their lifestyles.
How can you Prevent Kidney and Heart Diseases?
You can’t always prevent getting a kidney or heart disease. But there several steps you can take that will decrease your chances of getting these diseases.
These steps are:
- Maintain your blood pressure at a normal level
- Avoid taking stress
- If you are suffering from diabetes, maintain the level of glucose in your blood
- If you have a family history, get regular urine and blood tests
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat healthily
- Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes
- Keep an eye on your cholesterol levels
- Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol
- Don’t smoke
- Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet