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Protect your Kidneys and Save your heart

Kidney Awareness

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Having discussed about heart-health previously, let’s also take note of this slogan “Protect Your Kidneys and Save Your Heart”. This happens to be the theme of this year’s “World Kidney Day” celebrations, which falls on the March 10th every year.

The above slogan is true because kidney trouble speeds up heart disease and a person with heart disease needs to check his kidney functions, because logically both heart and kidneys have the same risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

What are kidneys? The terms “Renal” and “Nephro” are synonymous of the kidneys. These are a pair of bean-shaped, dark-red structures about the size of a conventional computer mouse weighing about 150 gm each. If you keep your hands on your hips, the position of your thumbs will indicate the location of the kidneys. They form the main excretory system of urine formation.

Do you know?
1. One kidney is enough for a normal living provided the kidney function is 100%. A 30 to 40% loss of kidney function is barely noticeable. If the kidney function fails below 10 to 15%, then renal cleansing therapy (dialysis) or renal transplant becomes necessary to sustain life. Kidney function is measured by GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate) using blood.

2. Innumerable blood vessels are involved in the functioning of kidneys and about 160 km of blood vessels are present, both kidneys put together.

3. Everyday, our kidneys sift about 2 quarts of waste products and extra water from 200 quarts of blood. The wastes and extra water become urine which flows through tubes called ureters to the bladder and get released as urine. There are about a million of the microscopic structures called “nephrons” in each kidney that are the functional units of the kidney.

4. Diabetes causes glucose-laden blood to circulate in the blood stream and hence damage the “nephrons” causing diabetic kidney disease.

5. High blood pressure, above 130/80 causes damage to the small vessels and impair their functioning.

6. Infection or autoimmune diseases cause glomerular diseases which cause symptoms like proteinuria (protein in urine) or hematuria (blood in urine). There are congenital kidney diseases like Polycystic Kidney Disease or (PKD).

7. Driving frequently over difficult terrains causes kidney bruising, unless the vibrations are minimized with good cushioning of the seat.

8. Ingestion of poison or a trauma or even popping-up excessive over-the-counter pills can burden the kidneys and lead to failure.

9. Acute Renal Failure (ARF) happens during heavy blood loss as in accidents etc, that which is sometimes reversible.

10. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is not curable and when one has the disease for a long time, usually end-up with End Stage Renal Disease or (ESRD) requiring dialysis or transplantation.

What indicates kidney disease?
High BP, protein or albumin in urine, a creatinine level greater than 1.2 mg/dL, BUN (blood urea nitrogen) greater than 20 mg/dL, a GFR of 60 for 3 months indicates chronic kidney disease (above 90 being normal GFR).

How to prolong kidney function in CKD? Control BP with meds, keep glucose levels monitored closely. Avoid foods rich in protein, sodium, potassium or cholesterol,

Kidney abuses: Smoking, alcohol, substance abuse, steroid drugs, laxatives, also some medications taken regularly affects the kidneys causing toxicity.

What is good for the kidneys?
1. Avoiding caffeine, carbonated/colored drinks, limiting red meat. Tannin is hard on the kidneys.
2. Taking herbs like Bearberry, Parsley helps detox the kidneys. Cranberry prevents urinary tract diseases.
3. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water everyday is very important for the kidney’s flushing mechanism.
4. Holding the urine for long periods is not good as it increases the risk of urinary tract infections as well as kidney and bladder stones.
5.. Keeping the other systems of the body healthy will automatically keep the kidneys healthy as the kidneys get a better quality of blood and are less burdened. Hence regular exercise helps a great deal with kidney function.

Watch the Video: Urinary system: Scientific view!

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Disclaimer: The above content is provided for information and awareness purpose only. It is not prescriptive or suggestive or meant to replaces your qualified physician's advice or consultation.