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Kidney Disease and High Blood Pressure: Care Instructions


Long-term (chronic) kidney disease happens when the kidneys cannot remove waste and keep your body's fluids and chemicals in balance. Usually, the kidneys remove waste from the blood through the urine. When the kidneys are not working well, waste can build up so much that it poisons the body. Kidney disease can make you very tired. It also can cause swelling, or edema, in your legs or other areas of your body.

High blood pressure is one of the major causes of chronic kidney disease. And kidney disease can also cause high blood pressure. No matter which came first, having high blood pressure damages the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys.

If you have high blood pressure, it is important to lower it. There are many things you can do to lower your blood pressure, which may help slow or stop the damage to your kidneys.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems with your medicine. You will probably need more than one medicine to lower your blood pressure. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • If you get sick (throwing up, diarrhea, fever), you may need to stop taking some of your medicines until you are well again. Ask your doctor which medicines to pause when you are sick.
  • Work with your doctor and a dietitian to plan meals that have the right amount of nutrients for you. You will probably have to limit salt, fluids, and protein.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. This is very important if you put on weight around the waist. Losing even 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) can help you lower your blood pressure.
  • Manage other health problems such as diabetes and high cholesterol. You can help lower your risk for heart disease and blood vessel problems with a healthy lifestyle along with medicines.
  • Do not take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), or similar medicines, unless your doctor tells you to. They may make chronic kidney disease worse. It is okay to take acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • If your doctor recommends it, get more exercise. Walking is a good choice. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk every day. Try for at least 2½ hours a week. You also may want to swim, bike, or do other activities.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol. Talk to your doctor about whether you can drink any alcohol.
  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around you. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse nausea and vomiting.
  • You have much less urine than normal, or you have no urine.
  • You are feeling confused or cannot think clearly.
  • You have new or more blood in your urine.
  • You have new swelling.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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