You may have seen the article in Kidney Today last month by Dr. Jerry Penso, “Roll Up Your Sleeves for a Blood Pressure Check,” which discusses the connection between high blood pressure and kidney disease. High blood pressure affects 68 million people, or one in three Americans. This is a sobering statistic on its own, but if you recognize the connection between high blood pressure and kidney disease, this number is staggering. High blood pressure is the #2 cause of kidney failure, and causes 25 percent of all cases of kidney disease. Unfortunately, I learned about this connection the hard way, through first-hand experience.
In 1992, I was 21 years old with a bright future ahead of me and completely unaware that my high blood pressure could cause irreversible and devastating damage to my kidneys. I will never forget the sinking feeling I had when my doctor told me I was headed into kidney failure and would need dialysis in order to survive. Now I’m 43 years old, and I have been on dialysis for more than half of my life.
This is my story about learning about the connection between high blood pressure and kidney disease, but it doesn’t have to be yours. I have made it my personal mission to make sure that everyone in my community understands that high blood pressure can lead to kidney disease. To get the word out I have become a patient-advocate with the American Kidney Fund (AKF), and in this role I spend a great deal of time sharing my experience and lessons learned with my fellow church members, friends and neighbors.
I encourage you to learn if you are at risk for kidney disease. The tips and links below provide additional information about staying healthy and fighting kidney disease:
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure – visit AKF’s Keep a Healthy Blood Pressure page.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle – visit AKF’s Tips for Healthy Living page.
- Attend a Kidney Action Day in your area – check out the events page to find screenings near you.
If you or a family member struggles with high blood pressure, please get your kidneys screened. Together we can fight kidney disease.
Thomas Jones is a patient-advocate with the American Kidney Fund and has been on dialysis for over 20 years. He has attended AKF's Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill to speak with his members of Congress about kidney disease awareness and education and has shared his story at Kidney Action Day.