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Keep a Healthy Blood Pressure

Having high blood pressure puts you more at risk for kidney disease.  Keep a healthy blood pressure to help prevent or slow kidney disease.  You will need to:

Check your blood pressure
Eat a heart-healthy diet
Ask about blood pressure medicine
Live a healthy lifestyle

Check your blood pressure

High blood pressure can damage your kidneys.  Keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range can help protect your kidneys and prevent or slow kidney disease.  Working with your doctor, getting exercise and following a heart-healthy diet can help you keep a healthy blood pressure.
You may need to check your blood pressure on a regular basis to know how you’re doing. 

Checking your blood pressure at home

Your doctor may suggest that you check your blood pressure at home.  The easiest way to do this is with a digital blood pressure monitor.  You can get a monitor from your local drug store, hospital, clinic or online.  Your doctor can help you find a monitor that is right for you.  Many pharmacies also have in-store monitors that you can use for free.

Your blood pressure monitor will come with directions for how to check your blood pressure.  Take your monitor to your next doctor visit so that your doctor can help make sure you are using it correctly. 
When you check your blood pressure, your result will be given as two numbers.  Both numbers are important.

  • The first or top number is your systolic pressure.  This is when your heart is beating and your blood pressure is at its highest.
  • The second or bottom number is your diastolic pressure.  This is when your heart is between beats and your blood pressure is at its lowest.
    Example: 120 (Systolic)/80 (Diastolic)

For most people, a normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 or “120 over 80.”  If either number is high, your blood pressure is high.  Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be.

Eat a heart-healthy diet

What you eat can affect your blood pressure.  Pick foods low in salt (sodium) and fat to help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.  Use these tips to get started:

Limit salt

  • Do not add salt to your food when cooking or eating.  Try cooking with fresh herbs, lemon juice or other spices.
  • Choose fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables.  If you do use canned vegetables, rinse them before eating or cooking with them to remove extra salt.
  • Shop for items that say “reduced-sodium” or “low-sodium.”
  • Avoid processed foods like frozen dinners and lunch meats.
  • Limit fast food and salty snacks, like chips, pretzels and salted nuts.

Limit fat

  • Choose lean meats or fish.  Remove the skin and trim the fat off your meats before you cook them.
  • Bake, grill or broil your foods instead of frying them.
  • Shop for fat-free and low-fat dairy products, salad dressing and mayonnaise.
  • Try olive oil or canola oil instead of vegetable oil.
  • Choose egg whites or egg substitute rather than whole eggs.

Ask about blood pressure medicine

If changes to your lifestyle are not enough to control your blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe a blood pressure medicine. There are many types of blood pressure medicines, and you may need to be on more than one medicine to control your blood pressure. Whichever medicine(s) you use, the most important thing is getting your blood pressure into a healthy range.

ACE inhibitors and ARBs are two types of blood pressure medicines that can help protect your kidneys. Ask your doctor if an ACE inhibitor or ARB is right for you. Your doctor might also prescribe a diuretic (also called a “water pill”). This is a type of medicine that helps your body get rid of extra fluid. Having too much fluid in your body can raise your blood pressure.

If your doctor prescribes medicines, take them as directed. Blood pressure medicines need to be taken even when you feel fine. If you have side effects from a medicine, talk to your doctor. He or she may suggest a different medicine that does not have those side effects.

Live a healthy lifestyle

Keeping a healthy blood pressure is key to keeping your kidneys healthy.  You can also help protect your kidneys by following other healthy habits.  Try to:

  • Be physically active
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Control your cholesterol
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Limit alcohol

Get more healthy living tips here. 

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