Your kidneys help filter waste products from your blood. They perform many other important tasks as well, such as maintaining electrolyte balance, boosting red cell production, and regulating blood pressure.
When the kidneys fail, it is definitely bad news for your body. While some cases of kidney failure can be treated, other forms of kidney disease lead to irreversible kidney failure. Kidney failure usually happens because there is a buildup of waste products in the body. When your kidneys are unable to remove these waste products, you can start to feel weak, be short of breath, have no energy, and/or feel confused.
Eventually, if your kidneys fail to remove potassium from your bloodstream, your heart starts to beat irregularly and the danger of dying is very real. If your kidneys fail completely, the only treatment options available are dialysis or receiving a kidney transplant.
For those with kidney disease, the threat of kidney failure becomes a constant worry. If you or someone you know finds themselves in this difficult position, here is some encouraging news from researchers at the Taipei Medical University Hospital in Taiwan. Folic acid supplements could help stave off life-threatening cardiovascular events such as a heart attack.
The Taiwanese research team noted that patients with end-stage renal disease are at a particularly high risk for cardiovascular disease and elevated levels of homocysteine. However, studies have shown that folic acid supplementation can lower homocysteine levels in patients suffering from end-stage renal disease. The research for folic acid lowering cardiovascular risk is much less convincing. The research team therefore set out to determine if folic acid supplementation could also benefit the heart in patients receiving dialysis.
The researchers divided dialysis patients into two groups: one group was given folic acid supplements while the other group acted as a control. This was a large scale trial in which 55,636 patients participated. The researchers compared the survival rates of 17,000 patients supplemented with folic acid with control hemodialysis patients who were stable.
The mortality rate in the folic acid group was 12.3 compared to 13.4 in the control group. The researchers were able to conclude, based on their analysis, that folic acid supplementation improves cardiovascular and all-cause mortality rates in hemodialysis patients.
How can you boost the health of your kidneys so that they don’t ever reach the point of failing completely? Keep your weight in check. Obesity leads to high blood pressure and raises your risk for diabetes—two things which are linked to the onset of kidney disease. Be very careful with your alcohol consumption—or stop altogether if you are already having problems with your kidneys. Alcohol can cause damage to your kidneys and upset the fluid balance in your body. Alcohol can also impair the proper excretion of wastes.
Try to avoid eating lots of foods high in phosphorus. Damaged kidneys struggle to regulate phosphorus levels in the body, and for that reason foods high in the mineral are best eaten in moderation. Examples of phosphorus-rich foods include meats and dairy. And finally, keep hydrated with filtered water to help flush wastes out of the kidneys before they can cause harm.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Chien, S.C., et al., “Folic acid supplementation in end-stage renal disease patients reduces total mortality rate,” J Nephrol. Aug 21, 2013: 0.
“Keep Your Kidneys Healthy,” The National Kidney Disease Education Program web site, Jan. 9, 2013; http://nkdep.nih.gov/learn/keep-kidneys-healthy.shtml, last accessed Sept. 25, 2013.