By Dugan Maddux, M.D., Vice President for Kidney Disease Initiatives, Fresenius Medical Care North America
The kidneys and the heart usually work in harmony as the heart pumps blood to the kidneys, which remove toxins from the body. But when one gets sick, the other organ often suffers as well. A growing body of research documents the way heart disease impacts kidney function and how kidney disease can trigger or worsen heart disease.
About 30 million U.S. adults, or one in seven, are estimated to have chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most are undiagnosed, remaining unaware of kidney disease and its potential impact on their lives. Nearly 85 percent of patients with CKD also have high blood pressure and/or diabetes, according to the United States Renal Data System.
Heart disease risk is associated with high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus, which are well-known risk factors for kidney disease. If you have heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, your healthcare provider should check your kidney function regularly.
Warning signs and traditional screenings for heart disease, like a blood pressure test, can alert you to the risk of undetected kidney disease. Complete this kidney screen survey to assess your risk of kidney disease. Early recognition and monitoring of kidney function is crucial to improving outcomes for patients with either heart disease, kidney disease or both conditions combined.
Lots of research is being done on best treatments for people with heart and kidney problems. Breakthrough scientific genomic and proteomic tests hold the promise to help predict disease and identify personalized and individualized treatments. Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), the nation’s leading renal care company, is supporting information sharing between nephrologists (kidney doctors) and cardiologists. The aim is to broaden knowledge across the two fields, improving outcomes for patients facing both CKD and cardiovascular disease.
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The science is promising. In the meantime, there are simple steps we can all take to protect and promote our own health. So, this February as you honor loved ones who have battled heart disease by checking up on your own heart, consider asking your doctor to screen your kidneys as well.