Preparing For An Appointment
Most people are already hospitalized when they develop acute kidney failure. If you or a loved one develops signs and symptoms of kidney failure, bring up your concerns with your doctor or nurse.
If you aren’t in the hospital, but have signs or symptoms of kidney failure, make an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner. If your doctor suspects you have kidney problems, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in kidney disease .
Before your meeting with the doctor, write down your questions. Consider asking:
- What’s the most like cause of my symptoms?
- Have my kidneys stopped working? What could have caused my kidney failure?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What are my treatment options and what are the risks?
- Do I need to go to the hospital?
- Will my kidneys recover or will I need dialysis?
- I have another health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Do I need to eat a special diet, and if so, can you refer me to a dietitian to help me plan what to eat?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you’re prescribing me?
- Do you have any printed materials that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
Lifestyle And Home Remedies
During your recovery from acute kidney failure, your doctor may recommend a special diet to help support your kidneys and limit the work they must do. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian who can analyze your current diet and suggest ways to make your diet easier on your kidneys.
Depending on your situation, your dietitian may recommend that you:
- Choose lower potassium foods. Your dietitian may recommend that you choose lower potassium foods. High-potassium foods include bananas, oranges, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes. Examples of low-potassium foods include apples, cauliflower, peppers, grapes and strawberries.
- Avoid products with added salt. Lower the amount of sodium you eat each day by avoiding products with added salt, including many convenience foods, such as frozen dinners, canned soups and fast foods. Other foods with added salt include salty snack foods, canned vegetables, and processed meats and cheeses.
- Limit phosphorus. Phosphorus is a mineral found in foods, such as whole-grain bread, oatmeal, bran cereals, dark-colored colas, nuts and peanut butter. Too much phosphorus in your blood can weaken your bones and cause skin itchiness. Your dietitian can give you specific recommendations on phosphorus and how to limit it in your particular situation.
As your kidneys recover, you may no longer need to eat a special diet, although healthy eating remains important.
Signs Of Kidney Disease
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What Do The Kidneys Do
Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs and are usually about the size of your fist. They are located a little below your rib cage and to the left and right of your spine. Your kidneys are powerful chemical factories and have the following jobs:
- Clean your blood of waste products and extra water
- Help control blood pressure
- Keep bones healthy and strong
- Help make red blood cells
- Keep the balance of minerals in your blood
Can Hbp Cause Kidney Failure
Your kidneys and circulatory system depend on each other for good health. The kidneys help filter wastes and extra fluids from blood, using a lot of blood vessels. When the blood vessels become damaged, the nephrons that filter your blood dont receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to function well. This is why high blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure.
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Heart And Kidney Failure Life Expectancy
Chronic kidney disease is one of the common health situations, a number of people are tackling today. This is a health situation that affects the kidneys inside a persons body and then the other organs. Chronic kidney disease increases the risk of heart-related disease for the patient and can also cause kidney failure.
Heart failure is again the most critical health condition with which many individuals are tackling today. Both these diseases are becoming the cause of many deaths worldwide. The risk of chronic kidney disease found to get an increase of 40 percent for those who are facing the stage of heart failure. Heart and kidney failure life expectancy depends upon the stage of the disease and the condition of the patient.
Examining The Link Between Heart And Kidney Disease
PIXOLOGICSTUDIO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images
To one extent or another, all the bodys organs are interdependentthe function of one organ relies to at least some degree on the ability of all the other organs do their jobs. This interdependency is particularly striking between the heart and the kidneys.
It is distressingly common for people with significant heart disease to eventually develop chronic kidney disease. Conversely, people with kidney disease have a greatly increased risk of developing heart disease.
This means that people who have a problem with one of these organ systems must be aware of the possibility of developing a problem with the other, and they should take reasonable steps to help prevent this from happening.
What Is Heart Disease
Heart disease includes any problem that keeps your heart from pumping blood as well as it should. The problem might start in your blood vessels or your heart. Heart and blood vessel problems include
- the buildup of a substance called plaque in the walls of the blood vessels
- a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood to the heart
- heart attackheart damage caused by a lack of blood and oxygen to the heart
The buildup of plaque is often the first step in making other problems. Plaque can block blood flow.
Plaque can block blood flow.
|Normal blood vessel|
|Blood vessel with plaque and blood clot|
The early symptoms of plaque in your blood vessels include
- pain in your chest, called angina
- pain in your legs when walking
- sudden numbness or weakness in your arms or legs
- temporary signs of a strokea blockage of blood to the brainsuch as having a hard time speaking or drooping muscles in your face
- feeling dizzy at times
A blood clot may form in a blood vessel that carries blood to the heart muscle. Then your heart muscle does not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs from the blood. The muscle becomes damaged. The damage to your heart caused by this blockage and lack of oxygen is called a heart attack.
Each person may have different heart attack symptoms. Symptoms can include
- chest pains or discomfort, or often a sense of chest pressure
- pain or discomfort in one or both armsoften the left armor in the back, jaw, neck, or stomach
- shortness of breath
- nausea or vomiting
Treating Complications Until Your Kidneys Recover
Your doctor will also work to prevent complications and allow your kidneys time to heal. Treatments that help prevent complications include:
- Treatments to balance the amount of fluids in your blood. If your acute kidney failure is caused by a lack of fluids in your blood, your doctor may recommend intravenous fluids. In other cases, acute kidney failure may cause you to have too much fluid, leading to swelling in your arms and legs. In these cases, your doctor may recommend medications to cause your body to expel extra fluids.
- Medications to control blood potassium. If your kidneys aren’t properly filtering potassium from your blood, your doctor may prescribe calcium, glucose or sodium polystyrene sulfonate to prevent the accumulation of high levels of potassium in your blood. Too much potassium in the blood can cause dangerous irregular heartbeats and muscle weakness.
- Medications to restore blood calcium levels. If the levels of calcium in your blood drop too low, your doctor may recommend an infusion of calcium.
- Dialysis to remove toxins from your blood. If toxins build up in your blood, you may need temporary hemodialysis often referred to simply as dialysis to help remove toxins and excess fluids from your body while your kidneys heal. Dialysis may also help remove excess potassium from your body. During dialysis, a machine pumps blood out of your body through an artificial kidney that filters out waste. The blood is then returned to your body.
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How The Kidneys Work
The kidneys are like the body’s garbage collection and disposal system. Through microscopic units called nephrons, the kidneys remove waste products and extra water from the food a person eats, returning chemicals the body needs back into the bloodstream. The extra water combines with other waste to become urine, which flows through thin tubes called ureters to the bladder, where it stays until it exits through the urethra when someone goes to the bathroom.
The kidneys also produce three important hormones:
- erythropoietin, which stimulates the bone marrow to make red blood cells
- renin, which helps regulate blood pressure and
- the active form of vitamin D, which helps control the calcium balance in the body and maintain healthy bones.
Kidney failure, which is also called renal failure, is when the kidneys slow down or stop properly filtering wastes from the body, which can cause buildups of waste products and toxic substances in the blood. Kidney failure can be acute or chronic .
Symptoms Of Chronic Kidney Disease
Symptoms usually develop very slowly. As kidney failure progresses and metabolic waste products build up in the blood, symptoms progress.
Mild to moderate loss of kidney function may cause only mild symptoms, such as the need to urinate several times during the night . Nocturia occurs because the kidneys cannot absorb water from the urine to reduce the volume and concentrate it as normally occurs during the night.
As kidney function worsens and more metabolic waste products build up in the blood, people may feel fatigued and generally weak and may become less mentally alert. Some have a loss of appetite and shortness of breath. Anemia also contributes to fatigue and generalized weakness.
The buildup of metabolic waste also causes loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and an unpleasant taste in the mouth, which may lead to undernutrition and weight loss. People with chronic kidney disease tend to bruise easily or bleed for an unusually long time after cuts or other injuries. Chronic kidney disease also diminishes the bodys ability to fight infections. Gout Gout Gout is a disorder in which deposits of uric acid crystals accumulate in the joints because of high blood levels of uric acid . The accumulations of crystals cause flare-ups … read more may cause acute arthritis with joint pain and swelling.
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Heart Disease And Chronic Kidney Disease
Having chronic kidney disease means you are more likely to get heart disease. CKD can cause heart disease, and heart disease can cause CKD. In fact, heart disease is the most common cause of death among people on dialysis.
The best way to prevent heart disease is to prevent or treat the problems that can cause it, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and anemia.
What Can You Expect From Heart Failure Treatment
Heart failure treatment is designed to dramatically reduce or halt your symptoms and hopefully prevent potential complications like kidney or liver damage, Dr. Wong says.
There are lots of medications that can be used to treat heart failure. In the early stages, the basic gist is that certain drugs can help to relax blood vessels, lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and decrease the strain on your heart. Others can help you release extra fluid to keep it from building up in your body. If you progress to more advanced heart failure stages, there are medications that can help strengthen your heart muscle contractions to pump blood more effectively, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Youll likely be encouraged to make some lifestyle changes as well. According to the AHA, that can include things like quitting smoking if you use tobacco, avoiding alcohol, limiting your sodium intake or making other dietary changes, exercising regularly, prioritizing sleep, reducing stress, monitoring your blood pressure, and more.
Your doctor may also recommend certain surgeries or medical procedures if needed in more severe cases, which can include options like coronary bypass surgery, heart valve repair or replacement, a heart transplant, among others, depending on the specific cause of your heart failure.4
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Correction Of Phosphate Balance
If you have stage four or five kidney disease, you can get a build-up of phosphate in your body because your kidneys cannot get rid of it. Phosphate is a mineral that, with calcium, makes up most of your bones. Phosphate is obtained through diet, mainly dairy foods. The kidneys usually filter out excess phosphate. If phosphate levels rise too much, it can upset the normal calcium balance of the body. This can lead to thinning of the bones and furring of the arteries.
You may be asked to limit the amount of phosphate in your diet. Foods high in phosphate include red meat, dairy produce, eggs and fish. Your GP or dietitian should be able to advise you about how much phosphate you can eat. However, there is no advantage in reducing your intake of these foods unless you have a raised phosphate level. Always ask a healthcare professional before changing your diet.
If reducing the amount of phosphate in your diet does not lower your phosphate level enough, you may be given medicines called phosphate binders. These medicines bind to the phosphate in the food inside your stomach and stop it from being absorbed into your body.
To work properly, phosphate binders must be taken just before meals. The most commonly used phosphate binder is calcium carbonate, but there are also alternatives that may be more suitable for you.
The side effects of phosphate binders are uncommon but include:
Dialysis For Kidney Failure
Dialysis artificially removes waste from your blood. There are two forms of dialysis haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Peritoneal dialysis is further broken down into two main types, continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis and automated peritoneal dialysis .The choice of dialysis method depends of factors such as your age, health and lifestyle. Over 2,000 Australian adults start renal replacement therapy each year.
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What Is Acute Kidney Failure
Acute kidney failure is when your kidneys stop working suddenly. Doctors sometimes call it acute renal failure. It can happen over just a few hours or days.
Acute kidney failure isnât always permanent. If you get treatment right away — and if you donât have other serious health problems — your kidneys can go back to working normally.
The main job of your kidneys is to filter waste out of your blood. They also remove extra fluid from your blood and control blood pressure. Kidneys help make red blood cells. They regulate electrolytes and activate vitamin D, too.
Kidneys donât work well when theyâre damaged. This could happen because of another health condition, like diabetes. A decrease in kidney function that happens over a longer period of time is called chronic kidney disease .
How Kidney Disease Causes Heart Problems
On the other hand, kidney disease often leads to cardiac problems. It does this in two major ways.
First, chronic kidney disease commonly produces salt and water retention, which can place significant strain on the heart. If any degree of underlying heart disease is present, whether it is CAD, heart valve disease or cardiomyopathy , this increase in the bodys fluid volume can cause cardiac function to deteriorate and can lead to overt heart failure.
Second, chronic kidney disease is a major risk factor for developing CAD, and for worsening any underlying CAD that might be present. People with chronic kidney disease who also have CAD tend to have significantly worse symptoms, and worse outcomes, than people who have CAD without kidney disease.
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Is A Kidney Transplant An Option
If kidney failure occurs and is non-reversible, kidney transplantation is an alternative option to dialysis. If the patient is an appropriate candidate, the healthcare professional and nephrologist will contact an organ transplant center to arrange an evaluation to see whether the patient is suitable for this treatment. If so, the search for a donor begins. Sometimes, family members have compatible tissue types and, if they are willing, may donate a kidney. Otherwise, the patient will be placed on the organ transplant list that is maintained by the United Network of Organ Sharing.
Not all hospitals are capable of performing kidney transplants. The patient may have to travel to undergo their operation. The most successful programs are those that do many transplants every year.
While kidney transplants have become routine, they still carry some risks. The patient will need to take anti-rejection medications that reduce the ability of the immune system to fight infection. The body can try to reject the kidney or the transplanted kidney may fail to work. As with any operation, there is a risk of bleeding and infection.
Kidney transplants may provide a better quality of life than dialysis. After one year, 95% of transplanted kidneys are still functioning and after five years, the number is 80%. It seems that the longer a patient is on dialysis, the shorter the life of the transplanted kidney.