Kidney Disease Sufferers May Be at Risk for Heart Problems, too

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If you are an older American suffering from kidney disease, then there’s another organ you should be paying attention to as well — your heart.

 According to a study published in a recent issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, people with severe kidney disease are actually more likely to suffer from heart disease later on than they are to face end-stage renal disease (kidney failure).

 This is pretty interesting news, considering that most people would probably think their kidneys were at the highest risk, not their hearts. The study shows that it is increasingly important for patients who are suffering from kidney disease to be proactive by taking medications that could protect their heart.

 The researchers started the study knowing that patients with hypertension often suffer from kidney disease at the same time. This indicated that patients with kidney disease would have a high risk of heart problems and that drugs to treat hypertension may best reduce the risk of any complications with the heart.

 Over 31,000 patients were evaluated in this study. Patients were split into groups according to their “glomerular filtration rate” or GFR, which is a measurement of kidney function. People with reduced function of this filtration had a comparatively higher risk of heart disease. This discovery has led researchers to believe that both kidney function and heart risk are directly related.

 In fact, people with the worst cases of kidney disease had double the risk of developing heart disease than they did of developing kidney failure. As well, of all the patients with kidney disease, 38% were found to have an increased risk of suffering heart disease.

 To combat these effects, patients were randomly assigned to one of three drugs. Researchers wanted to see which, if any, of these drugs were more effective.

 Interestingly, it was discovered that diuretic drugs were just as good at preventing heart disease in patients as the newer calcium-channel blockers and ACE inhibitors. Since diuretics are much cheaper, they may be a better option for people with kidney disease who are looking to prevent heart disease.

 Of course, drugs aren’t the only way to protect your heart. Simple changes in diet and lifestyle can also have an impressive effect. Just by eating a healthier, low-salt diet and by exercising regularly, you can cut your risk considerably. You can even increase these effects by losing weight (if you need to), quitting smoking, and eating a diet that is low in cholesterol and saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish.

 By using these tips, you can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol — and keep your heart protected.