Kidney Disease (Hypertension-Related) (cont.)

How does high blood pressure hurt the kidneys?

High blood pressure makes the heart work harder and, over time, can damage blood vessels throughout the body. If the blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged, they may stop removing wastes and extra fluid from the body. The extra fluid in the blood vessels may then raise blood pressure even more. It's a dangerous cycle.

High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of kidney failure, also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). People with kidney failure must either receive a kidney transplant or have regular blood-cleansing treatments called dialysis. Every year, high blood pressure causes more than 25,000 new cases of kidney failure in the United States.1

1United States Renal Data System. USRDS 2007 Annual Data Report. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2007.

Hypertension can result from too much fluid in normal blood vessels or from normal fluid in narrow, stiff, or clogged blood vessels.
Hypertension can result from too much fluid in normal blood vessels or from normal fluid in narrow, stiff, or clogged blood vessels.

What are the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure?

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Most people with high blood pressure have no symptoms. The only way to know whether a person's blood pressure is high is to have a health professional measure it with a blood pressure cuff. The result is expressed as two numbers. The top number, called the systolic pressure, represents the pressure when the heart is beating. The bottom number, called the diastolic pressure, shows the pressure when the heart is resting between beats. A person's blood pressure is considered normal if it stays at or below 120/80, which is commonly stated as "120 over 80." People with a systolic blood pressure of 120 to 139 or a diastolic blood pressure of 80 to 89 are considered prehypertensive and should adopt lifestyle changes to lower their blood pressure and prevent heart and blood vessel diseases. A person whose systolic blood pressure is consistently 140 or higher or whose diastolic pressure is 90 or higher is considered to have high blood pressure and should talk with a doctor about the best ways to lower it.

Male Illustration - Testicular Cancer
Picture of diastolic and systolic blood pressure
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/31/2014

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