What’s Heart Smart Is Kidney Smart Too

Kidney failure risk may be cut by following heart healthy lifestyle

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

(RxWiki News) Your heart and kidneys work together to maintain balance within your body. What’s good for the kidneys is good for the heart, and keeping up heart health may be key for the kidneys as well.

Healthy kidneys process all of the body’s blood supply every five minutes, filtering out wastes and extra fluids. They also help maintain blood pressure.

Just as maintaining strong kidneys may pump up heart health, following a heart healthy lifestyle may help prevent kidney failure in those with kidney disease, according to recent research.

"Keep up your heart health to benefit kidneys as well."

Paul Muntner, PhD, professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and his colleagues used a new heart health assessment to evaluate patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Investigators wanted to find out if scoring well on the recently published “Life's Simple 7” tool from the American Heart Association (AHA) translated into more robust kidney health.

The assessment measures individual healthy heart factors—not smoking, being physically active, following a heart healthy diet, having a normal weight, and maintaining low blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Individuals who meet the criteria in the Simple 7 checklist have been shown to have a lower risk of heart disease, according to the AHA.

For an average of four years, Dr. Muntner and his team followed 3,093 individuals with stage 3 or 4 chronic kidney disease. A total of 160 participants developed kidney failure and 610 patients died.

The scientists looked for a link between Life's Simple 7 components and both kidney failure and death.

Kidney patients who had two to four of Life's Simple 7 components in the "ideal" range had progressively lower risks for kidney failure compared with individuals who had only zero or one.

People with four ideal factors cut their kidney failure risk by nearly half, and their risk of dying during the study dropped by more than 40 percent.

No participant with five to seven ideal factors developed kidney failure.

"This study highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, not just on patients' risk for developing heart disease but also for the prevention of kidney failure," said Dr. Muntner.

People who wish to evaluate their heart health can go to the My Life Check website (cited below) to see how they can improve their heart health.

In an accompanying editorial, Andrew Chin, MD, and Lorien Dalrymple, MD, form the University of California, Davis, noted that "this study provides an opportunity to reconsider and reevaluate our approach to modifying health behaviors and factors in individuals living with CKD."

The study was published in May in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).

This research was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health and Department of Health and Human Services. Additional funding was provided by a grant-in-aid from Amgen Corporation.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 20, 2013
Last Updated:
August 9, 2013