Failing Hearts Lead to Ailing Kidneys

Kidney disease risk may stem from high blood pressure and heart failure

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Heart failure does not mean your heart is totally broken. Rather, it means your heart is weaker and cannot pump blood as easily. With a weaker heart, other organs in your body - including your kidneys - may be affected.

Kidney disease may be a common problem among people with high blood pressure and heart failure, according to a new study.

In light of the high rates of kidney disease in hypertension-associated heart failure, the authors recommend that policy makers start health awareness campaigns directed towards at-risk groups.

In addition, they recommend doctors be encouraged to measure kidney function in patients with high blood pressure or heart failure.

"Make healthy lifestyle choices."

Kidney disease is seen often in patients with congestive heart failure, said Dr. Charles Osuji and colleagues from Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria.

In addition, kidney disease puts patients at risk of complications and death, they said.

For their research, Dr. Osuji and colleagues studied the rates of chronic kidney disease in Nigerian patients with hypertension-associated congestive heart failure (heart failure linked to high blood pressure).

They found that 114 patients (76 percent) with high blood pressure and heart failure also had kidney function problems. More specifically, they had a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of less than 90 mLs/min.

GFR is a measure of kidney function. A GFR from 90 to 100 mLs/min is considered normal. People with GFR levels below 60 mLs/min for 3 months or more may have chronic kidney disease.

This study confirmed chronic kidney disease is common in patients with congestive heart failure, said Dr. Osuji and colleagues.

The rate of chronic kidney disease found in this study was higher than kidney disease rates found in other studies on patients from the United States and United Kingdom.

According to the authors, these different rates could be explained in a number of ways. First, the Nigerian study involved hospitalized patients with high blood pressure who needed treatment for organ damage - which may make this population more likely to have kidney disease.

Second, it has already been shown that African Americans with high blood pressure have a higher risk of kidney disease than their white American counterparts. This suggests that genes may play a role in kidney disease risk. The Nigerian population in the current study shares genetic traits with the African American population, which may explain the higher rates of kidney disease in this study.

Dr. Osuji and colleagues said the high rates of kidney disease in their study may also be explained by high rates of poverty and poor control of high blood pressure.

The current research involved 150 patients with hypertension-associated heart failure.

The study was published in the International Journal of Nephrology.

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Review Date: 
October 30, 2012
Last Updated:
November 6, 2012