How heart health linked to your kidney health

Credit: Unsplash+

Heart failure and kidney function are closely linked, and problems with one often lead to issues with the other. This relationship is sometimes referred to as cardiorenal syndrome.

Understanding this connection is important for managing both conditions and improving overall health.

Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump blood effectively, which means less oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the body’s organs, including the kidneys. The kidneys’ primary role is to filter waste from the blood and balance fluids and electrolytes.

When the heart struggles to pump enough blood, the kidneys can’t function properly, leading to further complications.

Research has shown that heart failure can cause kidney problems in several ways. One key factor is reduced blood flow. When the heart is weak, blood flow to the kidneys decreases, reducing their ability to filter waste.

Studies have found that about half of all heart failure patients experience some level of kidney dysfunction. This reduced kidney function can worsen heart failure symptoms, creating a vicious cycle.

Another important factor is the body’s response to heart failure. When the heart isn’t pumping well, the body tries to compensate by activating certain hormones that can constrict blood vessels, increase blood pressure, and retain salt and water.

While these responses aim to improve blood flow, they often put extra strain on both the heart and kidneys. Research highlights that this hormonal imbalance can worsen both heart and kidney function over time.

Fluid retention is another common issue in heart failure that affects the kidneys. When the heart can’t pump efficiently, fluid can build up in the body, leading to swelling in the legs, ankles, and lungs.

This excess fluid puts additional pressure on the kidneys, making it harder for them to remove waste from the blood. Studies indicate that managing fluid levels through medication and lifestyle changes can help improve both heart and kidney function.

Kidney disease can also negatively impact heart health. When the kidneys are not working properly, they can’t remove waste and excess fluids from the body. This can lead to high blood pressure, which is a significant risk factor for heart disease.

Additionally, waste buildup in the blood can cause inflammation and damage to blood vessels, further increasing the risk of heart problems. Research has shown that people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are more likely to develop heart failure and other cardiovascular issues.

One of the major ways kidney disease affects the heart is through a condition called hyperkalemia, where potassium levels in the blood become too high.

Healthy kidneys regulate potassium levels, but when they are impaired, potassium can build up, affecting the heart’s electrical system and potentially leading to dangerous heart rhythms.

Studies emphasize the importance of monitoring and managing potassium levels in patients with both heart and kidney issues.

Treatment for heart failure often needs to consider kidney function. Medications commonly used to treat heart failure, such as ACE inhibitors and diuretics, can impact kidney function.

ACE inhibitors help relax blood vessels and improve blood flow, but they can also reduce kidney function in some patients. Diuretics help remove excess fluid from the body but can cause electrolyte imbalances that affect kidney health.

Research suggests that careful monitoring and adjustment of these medications are essential to balance the treatment of both conditions.

Recent advancements in medicine are helping address the heart-kidney connection. For instance, SGLT2 inhibitors, initially used to treat diabetes, have shown benefits for both heart and kidney health.

Studies like the DAPA-HF and EMPA-REG OUTCOME trials have demonstrated that these drugs can reduce the risk of heart failure hospitalization and slow the progression of kidney disease. This dual benefit makes them a valuable option for patients with both conditions.

In summary, heart failure and kidney function are closely linked, and problems with one can exacerbate issues with the other. Reduced blood flow, hormonal imbalances, fluid retention, and waste buildup all contribute to the interrelation between heart and kidney health.

Managing these conditions requires a careful balance of medications, lifestyle changes, and regular monitoring. With ongoing research and new treatment options, there is hope for better management and improved outcomes for patients dealing with both heart and kidney issues.

Understanding and addressing the heart-kidney connection can lead to better health and quality of life.

If you care about kidney health, please read studies about how to protect your kidneys from diabetes, and drinking coffee could help reduce risk of kidney injury.

For more information about kidney health, please see recent studies about foods that may prevent recurrence of kidney stones, and eating nuts linked to lower risk of chronic kidney disease and death.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.