Kidney damage can increase your risk of heart disease
ISLAMABAD, May 15 (Online): More than 800 million peopleTrusted Source around the world have chronic kidney disease — a condition that eventually leads to the loss of kidney function.
Previous research shows chronic kidney disease is a risk factorTrusted Source for cardiovascular disease.
Now researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have found that different types of kidney damage are associated with a greater chance of developing heart disease.
Additionally, people diagnosed with vascular kidney diseaseTrusted Source, diabetic kidney diseaseTrusted Source, or greater severity of chronic kidney lesions were also correlated with an increased risk of cardiovascular issues.
This studyTrusted Source was recently published in the journal JAMA Cardiology.
What is chronic kidney disease?
The kidneysTrusted Source are the body’s waste filtration system. They remove any excess byproducts from the blood and make sure it leaves the body.
Sometimes the kidneys can become damaged or blood flow to the kidneys becomes compromised. When this happens, a person may eventually develop chronic kidney disease.
The main risk factors for developing chronic kidney disease include:
• diabetesTrusted Source
• high blood pressureTrusted Source and/or heart disease
• obesityTrusted Source
• age — it is more commonTrusted Source in people aged 65 or older
• geneticsTrusted Source
• previous kidney damage
Chronic kidney disease normally progresses slowly and in stages.
A doctor uses a test called glomerular filtration rateTrusted Source to determine if a person has chronic kidney disease and what stage they are in. They will also use urine tests, kidney scansTrusted Source, and biopsies to make a diagnosis.
Symptoms of chronic kidney disease may include:
• high blood pressure
• swollen feet, ankles, and/or hands
• fatigueTrusted Source
• anemiaTrusted Source
• inability to urinate or more frequent urination
• bloody and/or dark urine
• loss of appetiteTrusted Source
• itchy skinTrusted Source
Why is kidney disease a risk factor for heart disease?
According to Dr. Leo F. Buckley, a researcher in the Department of Pharmacy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and lead author of this study, people with chronic kidney disease often have diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, which are well-known risk factors for heart disease.
“There may be other reasons specific to chronic kidney disease, like (a) build-up of toxins that would normally be cleared by the kidneys,” he told Medical News Today.
Past studies have shown chronic kidney disease to be a risk factor for a number of cardiovascular issues, including coronary artery diseaseTrusted Source, atrial fibrillationTrusted Source, heart attack, heart failureTrusted Source, and strokeTrusted Source.
Details from the chronic kidney disease study
For this study, Buckley and his team used kidney tissue collected during clinically indicated biopsies from about 600 adults from the Boston Kidney Biopsy Cohort. All study participants had no history of heart disease.
Scientists looked specifically for kidney lesions on the tissue samples.
“Kidney disease lesions are abnormalities in the kidney tissue itself,” Buckley explained. “A very small sample of kidney tissue is removed through a needle. A pathologist then identifies different abnormalities in the kidney tissue sample. Most other research on kidney and heart disease uses blood biomarkersTrusted Source, but we were able to look directly at the kidney itself.”
Researchers discovered that over a median of 5.5 years of follow-up, major cardiovascular events — including heart failure, stroke, heart attack, and death — occurred in 126 study participants.
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Analyzing the findings
Upon further investigation, scientists found two specific types of kidney damage were associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
The first was mesangial expansionTrusted Source, which is an extra build-up of waste in the kidney’s filtration system.
The second, arteriolar sclerosisTrusted Source, occurs when the walls of the small blood vessels in the kidney thicken and blood cannot flow freely.
“Arteriolar sclerosis confirms our initial suspicions — blood vessel damage can lead to heart disease,” Buckley said. “Mesangial expansion is related to diabetes, so that may explain why mesangial expansion was a primary finding.”
Additionally, the research team found study participants with diagnoses of vascular kidney disease, diabetic kidney disease, or who had greater severity of chronic kidney lesions were also at an increased risk for heart disease.
“The vascular kidney disease and diabetic kidney disease findings were expected because people with chronic kidney disease have blood vessel disease and diabetes — two risk factors for heart disease,” Buckley said. “Previous studies on these relationships categorized people into each diagnostic category using medical history and examination, whereas our study was able to directly assess the kidney tissue itself.”