Protect your kidneys and save your heart
People are more aware now about the kidney and its importance. However, not many people know that kidney disease is linked to heart disease. When we interviewed Dr Deepa Jayram, an eminent nephrologist practising in Mumbai, she said ‘Most people do not know that there is a direct relation between the kidneys and heart disease. Patients who have chronic kidney disease (CKD) are associated with substantially increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). In fact patients with CKD are at a risk of dying from heart disease as opposed to progressing to end stage kidney disease. Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is an assessment of how well your kidneys function. With progressive decrease in GFR the level of kidney function declines and there is a proportionate increase in the risk of heart disease. Patient diagnosed with chronic kidney disease need to be also aggressively managed for risk factors of heart disease like lipid abnormality, hypertension, smoking, etc.’
So, how are the two related? Let’s start with some basics.
Kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located in the back on either side of the spine, just below the rib cage. They regulate the water and salt content of the body, remove wastes from the body, produce various hormones, maintain body’s calcium levels and help in the making of red blood cells. They also help regulate blood pressure.
Heart pumps oxygen-rich blood from your lungs to each cell in your body. Your kidneys act like sieves and filter the blood. Your kidneys and heart work hand in hand to control blood pressure. Whenever there is a fall in BP, kidneys release the enzyme renin into your blood. This in turn stimulates your liver to produce the hormone angiotensin, which causes constriction of blood vessels, thus raising blood pressure.
So, when the kidneys are affected by disease, it could cause an imbalance in the enzymes released leading to high blood pressure which is a risk factor for heart disease. The less-than-efficient sieve function causes an imbalance between sodium and fluid in the body. The fluid overload could strain the heart and increase the risk of heart complications.
Heart can be affected very early in the course of kidney disease. So kidney function should be monitored and if any changes are diagnosed, effort should be initiated to help protect your heart. Being aware that kidney disease and heart disease go hand-in-hand can help you to take action to prevent complications