Long-term, uncontrolled high blood pressure puts you at risk for kidney disease. Doctors often prescribe blood pressure drugs to protect kidneys. But now a new study suggests that, in people with kidney damage from high blood pressure, even the best efforts to control blood pressure can lead to a continuing decline in kidney function. The decline seems to be gradual in some people but significant in others.
Kidney disease affects about 26 million Americans. It strikes people of all races, but African Americans are at greater risk, mostly because they have higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure, the two leading causes of kidney disease.
Kidney disease often strikes without warning. It can be prevented or delayed, but if left untreated it can lead to kidney failure or even death.
In the new study, NIH scientists and their colleagues examined 759 African Americans who had kidney disease due to high blood pressure. The researchers assessed the patients’ health for at least 9 years. All the patients took blood pressure medications and tried to keep their blood pressure low.
During the study, about one-third of the patients had a slow weakening of kidney function, similar to the decline seen as healthy people age. But in about one-fourth of participants, kidney disease got substantially worse, even with very good blood pressure control and use of medications.
These findings highlight the importance of early detection and treatment of kidney disease. Talk to your health care provider about your risk for kidney disease and how you can keep your kidneys healthy.
“Despite these sobering results, blood pressure control is still vital in kidney disease and in many other diseases,” said NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni.
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