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Your kidneys: Connected to your heart

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Did you know the easiest way to keep your kidneys healthy is to check your blood pressure?

Paul Panebianco, DO, a Virtua kidney specialist explains: “Over time, untreated high blood pressure damages the kidney’s blood vessels, which decreases kidney function.” When kidneys aren’t functioning properly, they can’t do their life-sustaining jobs: remove waste and filter toxins from the blood, balance important nutrients in the body, and control blood pressure.

“Because high blood pressure causes kidney disease and kidneys regulate blood pressure, it can become a dangerous cycle,” says Richard Perlman, MD, PhD, Virtua cardiologist. “To stop this cycle and slow the progression of kidney disease, we must treat the high blood pressure.”

To lower blood pressure, Dr. Perlman says: “Start exercising, lose weight, limit salt, alcohol and caffeine intake, quit smoking, and watch your diet. It’s also very important that blood pressure medication be taken as directed.”

In addition, high blood pressure can be caused by sleep apnea and certain medications such as anti-inflammatory medications, oral contraceptives and steroids.

All adults should have their blood pressure checked annually. Dr. Panebianco adds: “Just like hypertension, kidney disease rarely has symptoms. Because of this, it’s also important to have routine blood work.”