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Colorado Kidney Care is proud to be a part of your healthcare team. In order to maintain your best health, it’s important to stay on track with what your provider recommends, including follow up appointments.

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Referral Resources

Take control of your health by learning more about your kidneys and kidney health. We have put together a easy-to-use library of resources to help you.

American Association of Kidney Patients

Resources for chronic kidney disease patients and their caregivers.

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American Diabetes Association

Information on diabetes, diabetes research, and advocacy

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National Kidney Foundation

Helpful kidney care education materials for patients and caregivers.

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Kidney Smart by Davita

Interactive educational sessions for managing kidney-related diet and health.

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DISCLAIMER: please note that the information included on this site is meant for general knowledge and is not intended for diagnosis or treatment and is not a substitute for the advice of your physician.  Please discuss your specific condition, diagnosis, treatments, medications, nutrition, and prognosis directly with your healthcare provider.

High Blood Pressure in Adults

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is a condition that puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. It does not usually cause symptoms, but it can be serious. When your doctor or nurse tells you your blood pressure, he or she will say two numbers. For example, your doctor or nurse might say that your blood pressure is “140 over 90.” The top number is the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is contracting (systolic). The bottom number is the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is relaxed (diastolic).

The numbers below illustrate how doctors and nurses define high and normal blood pressure. “Prehypertension” is a term doctors or nurses use as a warning. People with prehypertension do not yet have high blood pressure, but their blood pressure is not as low as it should be for good health.

High

Systolic: 140 or above

Diastolic: 90 or above

Prehypertension

Systolic: 120 to 139

Diastolic: 80 to 89

Normal

Systolic: 119 or below

Diastolic: 79 or below

How can I lower my blood pressure?

If your doctor or advanced practitioner has prescribed blood pressure medicine, the most important thing you can do is take it. If the medication causes side effects, do not just stop taking it. Instead, talk to your doctor or nurse about the problems it causes. He or she might be able to lower your dose or switch you to a different medicine. If cost is a problem, mention that too. He or she might be able to put you on a less expensive medicine. Taking your blood pressure medicine can keep you from having a heart attack or stroke, and it can save your life.

Can I do anything at home to help lower my blood pressure?

  • Lose weight (if you are overweight)
  • Choose a diet low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products
  • Reduce the amount of salt you eat
  • Do something active for at least 30 minutes a day, on most days of the week
  • Cut down on alcohol (if you drink more than two alcoholic drinks per day)

It’s also a good idea to get a home blood pressure meter. People who check their own blood pressure at home do better at keeping it low and can sometimes even reduce the amount of medicine they take.

Low-sodium diet

What is sodium?

Sodium is the main ingredient in table salt. It is also found in many foods and even in water. The body needs a very small amount of sodium to work normally, but most people eat much more sodium than their body needs.

Who should cut down on sodium?

Nearly everyone eats too much sodium. The average American takes in 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day. Experts say that most people should have no more than 2,300 milligrams a day, and many people should have even less. Ask your doctor, advanced practitioner or nurse how much sodium you should have.

Why should I cut down on sodium?

Reducing the amount of sodium you eat can have lots of health benefits:

  • It can lower your blood pressure, which means it can help reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, and many other health problems.
  • It can reduce the amount of fluid in your body, which means that your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to push fluid around.
  • It can keep the kidneys from having to work too hard. This is especially important in people who have kidney disease.
  • It can reduce swelling in the ankles and belly, which can be uncomfortable and make it hard to move.
  • It can reduce the chances of forming kidney stones.
  • It can help keep your bones strong.

Which foods have the most sodium?

Processed foods have the most sodium, even if they don’t taste salty. In fact, many sweet foods have a lot of sodium in them. The only way to know for sure how much sodium you are getting is to check the label. Here are some examples of foods that often have too much sodium:

  • Canned soups
  • Rice and noodle mixes
  • Sauces, dressings, and condiments (ketchup and mustard)
  • Pre-made frozen meals (“TV dinners”)
  • Deli meats, hot dogs, and cheeses
  • Smoked, cured, or pickled foods
  • Restaurant meals

What should I do to reduce the amount of sodium in my diet?

Many people think that avoiding the salt shaker and not adding salt to their food means that they are eating a low-sodium diet. However, almost all of the sodium you eat is already in the food you buy at the grocery store or at restaurants.

The most important thing you can do to cut down on sodium is to eat less processed food. That means that you should avoid most foods that are sold in cans, boxes, jars, and bags. You should also eat in restaurants less often. Instead of buying pre-made, processed foods, buy fresh or fresh-frozen fruits and vegetables. Buy meat, fish, chicken, and turkey that are fresh instead of canned or sold at the deli counter. Then try making meals from scratch at home using these low-sodium ingredients.

If you must buy canned or packaged foods, choose ones that are labeled “sodium free” or “very low sodium” (see below). Or choose foods that have less than 400 milligrams of sodium in each serving. The amount of sodium in each serving appears on the nutrition label that is printed on canned or packaged foods.

What do labels about sodium mean?

Sodium free

A tiny amount of sodium in each serving

Very low sodium

35 milligrams or less in each serving

Low sodium

140 milligrams or less in each serving

Reduced sodium

Usual level of sodium is reduced by 25 percent

Light or lite in sodium

Usual level of sodium is reduced by 50 percent

 

Also, whatever changes you make, make them slowly. Choose one thing to do differently, and do that for a while. If that change sticks, add another change. For instance, if you usually eat green beans from a can, try buying fresh or fresh-frozen green beans and cooking them at home without adding salt. If that works for you, keep doing it. Then choose another thing to change. If it doesn’t work, don’t give up. See if you can cut down on sodium another way. The important thing is to take small steps and to stick with the changes that work for you.

What if I really like to eat out?

You can still eat in restaurants once in awhile. Be sure to choose places that offer healthier choices; fast-food is almost always a bad idea. As an example, a typical meal of a hamburger and french fries from a popular fast-food chain has about 1,600 milligrams of sodium. That’s more sodium than many people should eat in a day.

When choosing what to order:

  • Ask your server if your meal can be made without salt
  • Avoid foods that come with sauces or dips
  • Choose plain grilled meats or fish and steamed vegetables
  • Ask for oil and vinegar for your salad, rather than dressing

What if food just does not taste as good without sodium?

First of all, give it time. Your taste buds can get used to having less sodium, but you have to give them a chance to adjust. Also try other flavorings, such as herbs and spices, lemon juice, and vinegar.

What about salt substitutes?

Do not use salt substitutes unless your doctor or advanced practitioner approves. Some salt substitutes can be dangerous to your health, especially if you take certain medicines.

Do medicines have sodium?

Yes, some medicines have sodium. If you are buying medicines you can get without a prescription, look to see how much sodium they have. Avoid products that have “sodium carbonate” or “sodium bicarbonate” unless your doctor prescribes them.

Renovascular Hypertension (High Blood Pressure in the Kidneys)

What is renovascular hypertension?

Renovascular hypertension is a type of high blood pressure. It happens when the renal arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood to the kidneys, become narrow. Renovascular hypertension is sometimes called “renal artery stenosis.”

Will I need tests?

Maybe. If you have renovascular hypertension, your doctor might be able to hear a “whooshing” sound when listening to your belly through a stethoscope. The doctor can also order imaging tests that create pictures of the renal arteries. These tests are only done if the doctor thinks a procedure to open up the arteries could be helpful.

Should I see a doctor?

Call your doctor or nurse right away if you have high blood pressure and get any of the following symptoms:

  • A very bad headache
  • Chest pain
  • Severe pain in your upper back
  • Problems breathing
  • Weakness on one side of your body and not the other
  • Problems speaking
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Vision changes
  • Nosebleeds
  • Blood in your urine

These can be signs of a very serious type of high blood pressure that needs to be treated as soon as possible.

How is renovascular hypertension treated?

Treatments include medicines for high blood pressure, such as:

  • ACE inhibitors and ARBs – ACE inhibitors and ARBs are often grouped together, because they work in similar ways. These medicines can help prevent kidney disease.
    • Examples of ACE inhibitors include enalapril, captopril, and lisinopril.
  • Examples of ARBs include candesartan (brand name: Atacand) and valsartan (brand name: Diovan).
  • Diuretics – examples include chlorthalidone, hydrochlorothiazide (also known as HCTZ), and furosemide (brand name: Lasix).
  • Calcium channel blockers – Examples include amlodipine (brand name: Norvasc), felodipine (brand name: Plendil), and diltiazem (brand name: Cardizem). These medicines also help prevent chest pain caused by heart disease.
  • Beta blockers – Examples include atenolol (brand name: Tenormin), metoprolol (brand names: Lopressor, Toprol-XL), and propranolol (brand name: Inderal LA).

Can renovascular hypertension be prevented?

You can reduce your chances of getting renovascular hypertension by keeping your blood vessels healthy. To do that, you should:

  • Quit smoking, if you smoke.
  • Walk, or do some form of physical activity on most days of the week.
  • Lose weight, if you are overweight.

Additional Resources

Please visit the National Kidney Foundation’s website for lots of great, general information on kidney health, kidney disease, dialysis, transplant---the works! As always, please discuss your specific situation with your healthcare provider, as the information contained here and on the NKF website is general and should not be personalized to your situation without your Care Team’s input.