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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

More than 72 million people in the United States have high blood pressure.  High blood pressure is the #2 cause of
kidney failure.

A healthy diet, exercise and medicines can help manage high blood pressure and prevent complications.

What is blood pressure?

Your heart pumps blood through tubes called arteries and veins.  The pumped blood makes pressure inside your arteries.  This is called blood pressure.  When your blood pressure is checked, it tells how hard your heart is working to pump your blood.

Blood pressure that is too high can harm your body.  High blood pressure is also called hypertension.  It means that your heart is working harder to pump your blood.  High blood pressure can damage the tiny filters in your kidneys.  This can lead to kidney disease and kidney failure.  High blood pressure can also be caused by many things, including kidney disease. 

Who is at risk?

Anyone can develop high blood pressure, but you are more at risk if you:

  • Are over 45 years old
  • Are overweight
  • Are African-American
  • Have a family member with high blood pressure
  • Eat a diet high in salt
  • Drink too much alcohol
  • Smoke

While you can’t change some of these risk factors, you can change others.  For example, you can’t change your age, but you can limit how much salt you eat.  These kinds of healthy changes can help you prevent or control high blood pressure and protect your kidneys.

How will I know if I have high blood pressure?

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. The only way to know for sure is to be checked.   Your doctor can check your blood pressure in the office, or you can check your blood pressure at home using a digital blood pressure monitor.  

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

What if I already have high blood pressure?

If you already have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to manage it.  This may help you prevent or slow kidney disease.

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Advocate for Kidney Awareness


If your life has been touched by kidney disease, make your voice heard by joining the American Kidney Fund's Advocacy Network.