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

6 Things to Know Before Starting Infertility Treatments

6 Things to Know Before Starting Infertility Treatments

By Nadine Kenney Johnstone It’s a surprising statistic: One in every eight couples has trouble getting

Miss-Diagnosed: Heart disease is the number one killer of women, yet it’s often hidden

Miss-Diagnosed: Heart disease is the number one killer of women, yet it’s often hidden

By Laura Drucker Who do you picture when you think of a typical heart disease patient?

Beating the Biological Clock

Beating the Biological Clock

Eggs without an expiration date offer women fertile hopes By Morgan Lord Starting at age 30, women

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap

Innovative programs provide bridge between pediatric and adult care By Nancy Maes The teen years can be

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Environmental Nutrition By Matthew Kadey, M.S., R.D., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter There is only so much food you

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

June 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
May 28, 2017 May 29, 2017 May 30, 2017 May 31, 2017 June 1, 2017 June 2, 2017 June 3, 2017
June 4, 2017 June 5, 2017 June 6, 2017 June 7, 2017 June 8, 2017 June 9, 2017 June 10, 2017
June 11, 2017 June 12, 2017 June 13, 2017 June 14, 2017 June 15, 2017 June 16, 2017 June 17, 2017
June 18, 2017 June 19, 2017 June 20, 2017 June 21, 2017 June 22, 2017 June 23, 2017 June 24, 2017
June 25, 2017 June 26, 2017 June 27, 2017 June 28, 2017 June 29, 2017 June 30, 2017 July 1, 2017

Recent Comments

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
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

Archives