High Blood Pressure and Kidney Disease

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What are the signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

Early kidney disease is a silent problem, like high blood pressure, and does not have any symptoms. People may have CKD but not know it because they do not feel sick. A person's glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a measure of how well the kidneys are filtering wastes from the blood. GFR is estimated from a routine measurement of creatinine in the blood. The result is called the estimated GFR (eGFR).

Creatinine is a waste product formed by the normal breakdown of muscle cells. Healthy kidneys take creatinine out of the blood and put it into the urine to leave the body. When the kidneys are not working well, creatinine builds up in the blood.

An eGFR with a value below 60 milliliters per minute (mL/min) suggests some kidney damage has occurred. The score means that a person's kidneys are not working at full strength.

Another sign of CKD is proteinuria, or protein in the urine. Healthy kidneys take wastes out of the blood but leave protein. Impaired kidneys may fail to separate a blood protein called albumin from the wastes. At first, only small amounts of albumin may leak into the urine, a condition known as microalbuminuria, a sign of failing kidney function. As kidney function worsens, the amount of albumin and other proteins in the urine increases, and the condition is called proteinuria. CKD is present when more than 30 milligrams of albumin per gram of creatinine is excreted in urine, with or without decreased eGFR.

How can kidney damage from high blood pressure be prevented?

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recommends that people with CKD use whatever therapy is necessary, including lifestyle changes and medicines, to keep their blood pressure below 130/80.

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