When it comes to the kidneys and heart, many people think these systems have very little to do with each other. However, they’re actually very interconnected.
Here at Houston Kidney Specialists Center, we support patients with both cardiovascular and kidney concerns. We have four locations throughout Houston and Cypress, Texas, where we can advise you on your kidney and heart health. In this blog, we share the link between your kidneys and your heart.
How do your heart and kidneys work together?
Your heart is a pump that ensures oxygenated blood circulates throughout your body. Your blood delivers nutrients to each part of your body and also picks up waste and excess water. Once this blood reaches your kidneys, your kidneys filter out the waste and toxins in order for these substances to be excreted in your urine.
If your kidneys were impaired, your blood would have excess waste, which would cause your heart to work harder. If your heart was impaired, your kidneys would have a reduced blood supply, which would make them filter your blood less efficiently.
Both are essential to your health, because together they ensure that healthy, nutrient-rich blood circulates throughout your body without excess toxins or waste.
How the heart affects the kidneys
Heart disease can affect the kidneys. Here why:
What is heart disease?
Heart disease is an umbrella term that describes conditions that affect the heart and/or blood vessels. These conditions include:
- Atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of arteries
- Cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle
- Arrhythmias, which is abnormal heart rhythms
- Heart failure, which is the reduced ability for your heart to circulate blood
- Hypertensive heart disease, which is heart problems caused by high blood pressure
- Coronary artery disease/coronary heart disease, which is where arteries that supply the heart become clogged with plaque
How can heart disease affect your kidneys?
Heart disease is a key risk factor for kidney disease. Because your heart can no longer efficiently circulate blood, it can lead to a buildup of pressure in the blood vessels leading to your kidneys, which can damage the sensitive filtering units in your kidneys.
Additionally, reduced heart function can lead to a reduced blood supply to your kidneys, which can make them work less effectively.
How the kidneys affect the heart
Kidney disease can affect the heart. Here why:
What is kidney disease?
Like heart disease, kidney disease refers to a number of conditions that can affect your kidneys, including:
- Chronic kidney disease, which is a long-term condition that’s often caused by diabetes and high blood pressure, and it causes reduced kidney function
- Kidney vasculitis, which is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the blood vessels around your kidneys
- Glomerular disease, which is a condition that affects the filtering units (glomeruli) in your kidneys
- End-stage renal disease, which is a condition in which your kidneys no longer function, and dialysis or a kidney transplant is required
How can kidney disease affect your heart?
As mentioned earlier, if your kidneys are impaired, your blood would have excess waste, and this could cause your heart to work harder. Heart disease is the most common cause of death among people who have kidney disease. Kidney disease also increases your risk of developing heart disease.
Shared risk factors for both heart and kidney disease
Heart and kidney disease share some underlying risk factors, meaning if you have any of these conditions, you’re more likely to develop heart and kidney problems.
Diabetes is caused by excess blood sugar, which can damage blood vessels, including the small filtering vessels in your kidneys. Over time, these damaged vessels can make your vascular system work less effectively, which can cause more strain on your heart.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure can damage blood vessels in both your heart and kidneys, which can lead to reduced function and serious health problems. However, kidney disease can also cause high blood pressure, because your kidneys are unable to filter out extra water and salt from your blood.
This can create a dangerous cycle where kidney disease can lead to high blood pressure, which can worsen kidney damage, which can increase your blood pressure even further.
Whether you have heart disease, kidney disease, or both, our team at Houston Kidney Specialists Center can help you understand how these conditions are interconnected. To find out more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.