Unfortunately, CKD often cannot be cured. But people in the early stages of CKD may be able to make their kidneys last longer by taking certain steps. They will also want to minimize the risks for heart attack and stroke because CKD patients are susceptible to these problems.
- People with reduced kidney function should see their doctor regularly. The primary doctor may refer the patient to a nephrologist, a doctor who specializes in kidney disease.
- People who have diabetes should watch their blood glucose levels closely to keep them under control. They should ask their health care provider about the latest in treatment.
- People with reduced renal function should avoid pain relief pills that may make their kidney disease worse. They should check with their health care provider before taking any medicine.
Controlling Blood Pressure
People with reduced kidney function and high blood pressure should control their blood pressure with an ACE inhibitor or an ARB. Many people will require two or more types of medication to keep their blood pressure below 130/80. A diuretic is an important addition when the ACE inhibitor or ARB does not meet the blood pressure goal.
Changing the Diet
People with reduced kidney function need to be aware that some parts of a normal diet may speed their kidney failure.
Protein is important to the body. It helps the body repair muscles and fight disease. Protein comes mostly from meat but can also be found in eggs, milk, nuts, beans, and other foods. Healthy kidneys take wastes out of the blood but leave in the protein. Impaired kidneys may fail to separate the protein from the wastes. Some doctors tell their kidney patients to limit the amount of protein they eat so the kidneys have less work to do. But a person cannot avoid protein entirely. People with CKD can work with a dietitian to create the right food plan.
Another problem that may be associated with kidney failure is high cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol in the blood may result from a high-fat diet. Cholesterol can build up on the inside walls of blood vessels. The buildup makes pumping blood through the vessels harder for the heart and can cause heart attacks and strokes.
Sodium is a chemical found in salt and other foods. Sodium in the diet may raise a person's blood pressure, so people with CKD should limit foods that contain high levels of sodium. High-sodium foods include canned or processed foods like frozen dinners and hot dogs.
Potassium is a mineral found naturally in many fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, potatoes, bananas, dried fruits, dried beans and peas, and nuts. Healthy kidneys measure potassium in the blood and remove excess amounts. Diseased kidneys may fail to remove excess potassium. With very poor kidney function, high potassium levels can affect the heart rhythm.
Smoking not only increases the risk of kidney disease, but it also contributes to deaths from strokes and heart attacks in people with CKD.
Anemia is a condition in which the blood does not contain enough red blood cells. These cells are important because they carry oxygen throughout the body. A person who is anemic will feel tired and look pale. Healthy kidneys make the hormone EPO, which stimulates the bones to make red blood cells. Diseased kidneys may not make enough EPO. A person with CKD may need to take injections of a form of EPO.