How Does Kidney Disease Affect the Heart?

Kidneys are important to support and maintain some body functions. They are also essential part of your urinary system. And if something goes awry with them, this can also affect other organs such as heart. Yap, kidneys and heart are closely associated. How does kidney disease affect the heart?

Risk factors of kidney disease

Kidney disease can be acute or chronic. Acute means that the problem occurs suddenly, it can develop only in a few days or even over a few hours. Chronic means that the problem takes more time (months or even years) to develop, causing the gradual loss of kidney function.

Both acute and chronic kidney disease can cause kidney failure. And when your kidneys fail to work, you will have other serious complications. In the worst scenario, the damage can be permanent (a condition called end-stage renal disease or ESRD).  For such case, dialysis (the use of artificial device to clean blood) or even a kidney transplant can be recommended.

Risk factors are factors, conditions, habits, or other things that make you more likely to develop a disease. These can also raise the changes for an existing disease to get worse!

What are risk factors of kidney disease? Kidney disease is attributed by a number of different factors. But in general, your risk is higher if you have some of the following conditions:

High blood sugar

This is common in people with diabetes (chronic, metabolic disorder). Diabetes is harmless as long as you can control it. But the problem comes when you lose control on it.

Prolonged, poorly controlled high blood (glucose) sugar in diabetes can cause serious complications, and even some can be life-threatening. Chronic episodes of high blood sugar level can be so harmful for many parts of the body, including kidneys.

To make the kidneys work normally and effectively, the body has its own mechanism to maintain the rate of blood flow to the kidneys. Any conditions that impair this rate can hurt kidneys!

High blood sugar can affect the normal rate of blood flow to your kidneys, making them work harder than usual. High amount of glucose in the blood can also add your kidney’s job in filtering blood. Overtime, these may cause poor kidney function or even a kidney failure.

So, poorly-controlled diabetes does hurt kidneys. Even in fact, it is one of the leading causes of kidney disease. About 44 percent patients who take dialysis are those with kidney failure associated with diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases.

The bad news, there is usually no warning sign of kidney disease. Diabetes (both type-1 and type-2 diabetes) can hurt your kidneys without you feeling it until the damage has become advanced. However, there are some early symptoms in a few cases, learn more in here!

High blood pressure

Another common risk factor for kidney disease is high blood sugar. As well we know, blood pressure is important variable to reveal how well your circulatory system works. High blood pressure means that the circulatory system works harder.

And both your kidneys and circulatory system can affect each other – yap, they depend on each other. The following is brief summary of how high blood pressure level (hypertension) can affect the kidneys:

  1. Over time, hypertension can hurt arteries, causing artery damage. And your kidneys are also packed with lots of arteries. The damaged renal arteries (blood vessels carrying blood from heart to kidneys) are not able to carry enough blood to the kidney tissue.
  2. When blood supply to the kidney tissue is interrupted, kidneys don’t get adequate supply of oxygen and nutrient. They also will lose their ability to filter blood and other functions.
  3. Kidneys also produce particular hormones to help the body manage its own blood pressure. The damaged kidney can worsen hypertension, causing vicious cycle.

Kidney damage associated with hypertension can occur over many years. The bad news, you can have it without noticing the symptom until it becomes advanced. If you have hypertension, it’s important to control your blood pressure as well – and if necessary, take regular screening test for kidney disease!

Other risk factors

These include:

  1. Some experts think that it may run in families. If you have a family member (particularly first-degree relatives such as parent, brother, or sister) with kidney problem, you are at higher risk than others who don’t have a family history of the same condition.
  2. Having established cardiovascular disease such as heart attack and heart failure. Stroke also can affect the risk.
  3. If you’re a smoker. Tobacco smoke is linked to many health risks, including kidney damage.
  4. A personal history of previous kidney problems.
  5. Generally, the risk of having kidney disease increases with age. In fact, it is commonly found at the age of 60 or older.
  6. Overweight and obesity, especially for BMI 30 or greater.

Risk factors of heart disease

Cardiovascular disease includes diseases that affect heart and blood vessels. And heart disease is one of cardiovascular diseases.

Having heart disease can increase the risk of kidney problem, as noted before. But did you know that kidney disease can also cause increased risk of heart disease? Yap, they can affect each other.

As well as kidney problem, there are a number of other risk factors for heart disease. These include:

  1. High blood pressure (hypertension).
  2. High blood cholesterol.
  3. High blood sugar (diabetes).
  4. Cigarette smoking.
  5. Lack of physical activity (sedentary lifestyle).
  6. Overweight and obesity. And did you know that belly fat has a significant role to cause cardiovascular diseases, even though you have normal weight? Learn more this issue in this section!
  7. A family history of heart disease or other cardiovascular diseases.
  8. Poor diet especially diet high in saturated fat.
  9. The age. The risk increases as the age! Heart disease is commonly found in older adults, though now it is also quite common in adults and even young adults.

How does kidney disease affect your heart?

Imagine that your kidneys and heart are key cities of your town. They are connected by a network of many roads – arteries and veins. If there is a problem in one of these roads, other things can go wrong elsewhere.

Kidneys and heart do work very closely together. Any problem that affect one of them or blood vessels that connect them, they can be affected together. In other words, the health of your kidneys is also very important for your heart – and vice versa!

Heart is responsible to pump blood around the body, providing a continuous supply of essential nutrients and oxygen for cells of the body.

The kidney’s job is to filter blood (remove wastes and reabsorb necessary substances). It also plays a role to regulate the balance of water & some minerals in the body (learn more in this post), and to help control blood pressure.

Without good performance of the heart, the blood supply to the kidneys is affected and they cannot work as well as they should. And without good kidney function, the heart also will work harder.

For in-depth information, the following are ways of how kidney disease can affect the heart: