High Blood Pressure and Kidney Disease


High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure in the United States after diabetes.

High blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the kidneys, reducing their ability to work properly. When the force of blood flow is high, blood vessels stretch so blood flows more easily. Eventually, this stretching scars and weakens blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the kidneys.

If the kidneys’ blood vessels are damaged, they may stop removing wastes and extra fluid from the body. Extra fluid in the blood vessels may then raise blood pressure even more, creating a dangerous cycle.


What is Blood Pressure and How is it Measured?
Blood pressure (BP) is the force of blood against your artery walls as it circulates through your body. BP normally rises and falls throughout the day. It can cause health problems if it stays too high for a long time or if it is too low to deliver enough oxygen to the organs. An example of a BP reading is 120 over 80 or 120/80. The top number is called the systolic pressure and represents the pressure as the heart beats and pushes blood through the blood vessels. The bottom number is called the diastolic pressure and represents the pressure as blood vessels relax between heartbeats.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure and Kidney Disease

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is an increase in the amount of force that blood places on blood vessels as it moves through the body. Factors that can increase this force include higher blood volume due to extra fluid in the blood and blood vessels that are narrow, stiff, or clogged.

Most people with high blood pressure do not have symptoms. In rare cases, high blood pressure can cause headaches. Kidney disease also does not have symptoms in the early stages. A person may have swelling called edema, which happens when the kidneys cannot get rid of extra fluid and salt. Edema can occur in the legs, feet, or ankles and less often in the hands or face. Once kidney function decreases further, symptoms can include:

  • appetite loss
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • drowsiness or feeling tired
  • trouble concentrating
  • sleep problems
  • increased or decreased urination
  • generalized itching or numbness
  • dry skin
  • headaches
  • weight loss
  • darkened skin
  • muscle cramps
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain

Diagnosing High Blood-Pressure

A health care provider diagnoses high blood pressure when multiple blood pressure tests—often repeated over several visits to a health care provider’s office—show that a systolic blood pressure is consistently above 140 or a diastolic blood pressure is consistently above 90. Health care providers measure blood pressure with a blood pressure cuff. You can monitor your blood pressure at home with blood pressure cuffs available at most drugstores. Read RSN’s Blood Pressure Monitor Review to learn about available options.

Prevent or slow the progression of kidney disease from high blood pressure with the help of a healthcare professional and certain lifestyle changes.

The best way to slow or prevent kidney disease from high blood pressure is to talk with your health care team and take steps to lower blood pressure. These steps include a combination of medication and lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating, maintaining physical activity, a healthy weight, quitting smoking and managing stress.

Diet and Nutrition


Your doctor or dietitian may recommend the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan. DASH focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other foods that are heart healthy and lower in sodium, which often comes from salt. The DASH eating plan that is rich in nutrients, protein, and fiber, low in fat and cholesterol, fat-free or low-fat dairy, fish, poultry and nuts. A reduction in red meat, sweets, added sugars, and sugar-containing beverages is suggested.

Body Weight


People who are overweight or obese should aim to reduce their weight by 7 to 10 percent during the first year of treatment for high blood pressure to lower the chance of health problems related to high blood pressure.



Most people should try to get at least 30 to 60 minutes of activity most or all days of the week. Moderate activities include brisk walking, dancing, bowling, riding a bike, working in a garden, and cleaning the house. Ask your doctor about how much and what kinds of activity are safe for you.



Smoking can damage blood vessels, raise the chance of high blood pressure, and worsen health problems related to high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure should talk with their health care provider about programs and products they can use to quit smoking.



Learning how to manage stress, relax, and cope with problems can improve emotional and physical health. Some activities that may help reduce stress include exercising, listening to music, focusing on something calm or peaceful, meditating, practicing yoga or engaging in a creative activity such as painting or writing.

Success Stories


Manage high-blood pressure by learning to make lifestyle changes. Be inspired by others who have shared their success stories. Check out these tips for weight Loss/Exercise, healthy diet, recipes, reducing stress, and more.

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