You may have seen the news this week that 59% of all Americans are at risk of developing kidney disease in their lifetime. And, as you know by now if you’ve been following this blog, one of the major risk factors for kidney disease is high blood pressure (also known as hypertension). You should be getting your blood pressure checked every time you go to the doctor, or you can even check at home using a simple and inexpensive blood pressure device.
So now that you’re keeping an eye on your blood pressure, what numbers should you look out for? In the past, the recommended blood pressure was <130/80 mmHg. However, this has recently been updated to <140/90mmHg after new, evidence-based studies did not find that “lower is better.” This new number has clearly demonstrated slowed progression of kidney disease with minimal side effects. I believe that blood pressure levels between 130-134mmHg are ideal.
As a result of this new recommendation, not everyone with kidney disease must be on blood pressure medications such as an ACE inhibitor or ARB. You should talk to your doctor to review your medications. It’s also important to note that drugs should not be the primary method for reducing your blood pressure. They may be included along with other lifestyle modifications such as a low sodium diet and maintaining a normal weight.
As high blood pressure is often a genetic disease, family history is a strong factor in when and whether you will develop the condition. However, it is also strongly influenced by your environment and things you can control. By limiting your sodium intake, making sure to exercise regularly, and keeping your alcohol consumption low, you could delay the onset of high blood pressure for many years. Regardless of family history, the risk of developing high blood pressure increases with age because over time the arteries age as well.
The kidneys are some of the most vascular organs in your body, and blood pressure is very important to preserving their function. If you have any questions or concerns about these new recommendations, be sure to talk to your doctor who can help provide an ongoing treatment plan to keep your pressure under control and prevent any serious complications.