Heart disease is common in people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Underlying conditions that cause renal disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, put people at greater risk for cardiovascular disease. Reduce your risk! Commit yourself to watching over your heart and keeping it as healthy as possible.
Keep your glucose level within normal range. Keep track of your blood sugar, eat right and take medications as prescribed.
Keep your cholesterol within normal range via diet, medication and exercise. Excess cholesterol can form plaque along artery walls, making it harder for your heart to circulate blood. Plaque can break open and cause blood clots or a stroke.
Control blood pressure. If you have high or low blood pressure, take action by monitoring and recording it at home in the morning and evening. Share the results with your physician to make sure you are taking the right medications in the right dosages at the right times.
Know how much fluid you need. Fluid build-up in your body can elevate blood pressure, and higher blood pressure contributes to heart disease. People on dialysis often have fluid restrictions, whereas people who have transplants may be required to drink more water. Ask your nephrologist.
Get sufficient sleep. People who sleep fewer than seven hours a night have higher blood pressure and higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Sleep is essential for relaxation, rejuvenation and healing.
Manage stress. Cortisol, and other stress hormones, cause excess glucose production to provide energy for a “fight or flight” response. Cortisol inhibits insulin production, narrows arteries and increases heart rate. Chronically elevated cortisol can affect weight, immune function, and susceptibility to disease.
Reach and maintain an ideal weight. Obesity, or elevated body mass index (BMI), are major risk factors for hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and several other pathologies. A body’s excess weight puts additional stress on the heart’s functioning and can also cause breathing problems such as sleep apnea.
Don’t smoke. Smoking hurts every organ in the body including the heart and blood vessels. It’s the main preventable cause of death and illness in the United States.
Exercise your heart – it’s a muscle, too! Muscles used regularly become stronger and healthier. Exercising helps the heart pump more blood through the body, and helps to keep arteries and blood vessels flexible.
Take prescribed medications regularly and as prescribed by your doctor. Any patients, beyond those who are elderly, can lose track when they have to consume multiple medications on a complex schedule. Use apps, a written schedule, or “memory aids” such as pill boxes to take your medicine at the right times.
Taking all these steps shows our heart that we are committed to our health. Our hearts, in turn, will have more strength to give us for life’s daily challenges!
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