Chicago Health | Homepage
A few easy steps keep kidneys healthy

A few easy steps keep kidneys healthy

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts

By Howard LeWine, M.D.

Q: I recently had a blood test that showed my kidneys are not working like they used to. I have high blood pressure, but otherwise consider myself healthy. What can I do to help preserve my kidney function?

A: Great question! Your situation is actually quite common. First, don’t be overly concerned. It’s very likely your kidneys will continue to do their job of filtering toxins from blood. But there are actions you can take now to help make sure that happens.

I suspect you had a blood test called a creatinine level. Creatinine is one of the things that the kidneys filter from the blood. If kidney function declines, creatinine rises.

Every day, a healthy kidney filters a total of about 200 quarts of blood, removing waste products, excess water, and certain chemicals. If the kidneys didn’t keep things in balance, you would slowly poison yourself.

The kidneys have a remarkable ability to keep working despite changing conditions. The tiny filtering tubes in the kidney, called glomeruli, adapt in various ways.

Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar (diabetes) all harm the kidneys and can lead to chronic kidney disease. A heart-healthy lifestyle of regular exercise and a nutritious plant-based diet helps prevent that from happening.

Here are five steps you can take now to protect your kidneys from more damage:

1. Keep your blood pressure and blood sugar within norms. This will help slow the decline in kidney function. Especially, keep blood pressure below 130/80.

2. Lower your cholesterol. Taking a statin medication to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol may help to protect the kidneys. Also, individuals with reduced kidney function are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, so reducing cardiac risk factors is important.

3. Consider medication. Certain medications can protect the kidneys. The two that physicians often prescribe are ACE inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs). They lower pressure in the kidney filters and limit further damage.

4. Limit protein intake. Eating too much protein can strain weak kidneys. Aim for a daily protein intake of 1 gram per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight.

5. Use NSAIDs with caution. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, interfere with kidney function. Taking them when you are also depleted of fluids can lead to kidney shutdown.

(Howard LeWine, M.D., is an internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. For additional consumer health information, please visit www.health.harvard.edu.)

(c) 2016 PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Care Quandary: Quality Rating Systems Can Help You Make the Best Decisions

Care Quandary: Quality Rating Systems Can Help You Make the Best Decisions

By Nancy Maes When your aging parent or loved one starts forgetting to take medications, lets unopened

Defending Yourself Against Ovarian Cancer, The Silent Killer

Defending Yourself Against Ovarian Cancer, The Silent Killer

By Kate Silver When Angelina Jolie Pitt had a double mastectomy in 2013 to prevent breast

Count ingredients, not calories

Count ingredients, not calories

By Sharon Palmer, R.D.N. Shift your focus from the calories label to the ingredients label, and

Pneumonia a leading cause of hospitalization for children

Pneumonia a leading cause of hospitalization for children

What Doctors Know Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Pneumonia puts thousands of young children

The Dangers of Meningitis Can Be Prevented

The Dangers of Meningitis Can Be Prevented

By Megy Karydes Kaitie Mayberry Hauser wasn’t overly concerned when she felt a migraine coming on

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

December 2016
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
November 27, 2016 November 28, 2016 November 29, 2016 November 30, 2016 December 1, 2016 December 2, 2016 December 3, 2016
December 4, 2016 December 5, 2016 December 6, 2016 December 7, 2016 December 8, 2016 December 9, 2016 December 10, 2016
December 11, 2016 December 12, 2016 December 13, 2016 December 14, 2016 December 15, 2016 December 16, 2016 December 17, 2016
December 18, 2016 December 19, 2016 December 20, 2016 December 21, 2016 December 22, 2016 December 23, 2016 December 24, 2016
December 25, 2016 December 26, 2016 December 27, 2016 December 28, 2016 December 29, 2016 December 30, 2016 December 31, 2016

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives