January 17, 2022

The 2 Leading Causes of Kidney Failure

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of kidney failure, according to the CDC these diseases represent 3 out of 4 new cases. The CDC also states 360 people begin dialysis treatment for kidney failure every 24 hours and more than one in seven American adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Insulin shot for diabetes

It is important to manage diabetes and high blood pressure in order to avoid getting into the later stages of CKD. In the early stages of kidney disease there are usually no signs or symptoms. Thus, it is important to maintain regular follow ups with your doctor to monitor medication regimen and blood work. Two tests that should be measured at least annually are BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) and Creatinine both tell how well the kidneys are functioning in removing waste products from the body.  Further urinary analysis can be done, if you are spilling too much protein in your urine then your kidneys are compromised. 

Blood Pressure Check

There are 5 stages in CKD, once you are in stage 5 CKD dialysis and/or transplant is required.  How do you know what stage of CKD you are in? By checking the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) which measures how efficiently your kidneys are filtering blood.

Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease- Image courtesy: National Kidney Foundation

Typically, symptoms of kidney failure are not seen until the last stages of CKD which at that
point regaining kidney function is rare. Thus, keeping your glucose levels and blood pressure in check is important to avoid further kidney damage.

Tips to Managing Diabetes:

  •  Know your numbers: Monitor glucose levels daily at different times during the day so you know your fasting levels, before meal time, and 2 hours post meal. Discussed with your doctor what range your glucose levels should be at.
    o Recommendations typically are 80-110mg/dl (with upper limit of 120mg/dl) for
    fasting glucose and less than 140-160mg/dl (with upper limit of 180mg/dl) for post
    meal glucose levels. Normal glucose range is around 65-100mg/dl.
     o Also know your Hemoglobin A1C level, this measures an average 3-month glucose
    range. For diabetics, A1C goal is usually less then 7.0% however most doctors may
    recommend less than 6.5%. Your doctor will address if elevated.
  • Maintain regular doctor appointments.
  • Take medication as prescribed per your physician. Make sure you are filling medication
    regularly so you avoid any lapse.
  • Follow a diabetic diet. Do not skip meals and make sure meals are balanced with a protein source, healthy fat, starch/fruit and vegetables.
  •  See a dietitian to provide full education on diabetic diet and a meal plan that works for you.
  • Make sure you are getting enough fiber in your diet. Women should aim for about 25 grams per day and men for about 35 grams of fiber daily. If you usually don’t consume enough fiber gradually increase intake.
  • Stay physically active. At least 30 minutes of physical activity/exercise daily. Exercise helps insulin get the glucose into your cells where it should be and can also help with reducing stress.
  •  Avoid/limit alcohol.

Tips to Manage High Blood Pressure:

  •  Know your numbers: Monitor your blood pressure frequently. Normal blood pressure is 120/80
  • Take your prescribed blood pressure medications as directed. Do not skip medications.
  • If your blood pressure is too low or too high with your current medication regimen, follow up with your doctor immediately to adjust the medications that best work for you.
  • Follow a low sodium diet. Refer to the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
  • Read food labels in order to check sodium content.
  • Consult with a dietitian to provide a more specific diet education and help you adhere to your diet.
  • Make sure any medications or supplements you decide to take are approved by your health care team.
  • Don’t Smoke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be active for 30 minutes a day at least 5 times per week.
  • Find ways to reduce stress: walking in nature, meditation, prayer, yoga, journaling, find time to do activities you enjoy, remind yourself of what you are grateful for, and surround yourself with positive supportive people

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