The effect of dialysis on the heart
Often there are no symptoms of heart disease until the damage to the heart and blood vessels has been limited. The best way to prevent heart disease is to prevent problems that can lead to it, such as anemia, high blood pressure, and problems with calcium and phosphate levels.
What is heart disease?
Heart disease, also called cardiovascular disease (CVD), occurs when you have problems with your heart and blood vessels.
Heart disease can include:
- Narrowing or blockage of blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke.
- Conditions caused by plaque buildup in the arteries (the blood vessels that carry blood to the heart), known as atherosclerosis. These include:
- Coronary heart disease (CHD)
- Coronary artery disease (CAD)
- Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
- Other heart conditions — including those that affect your heart muscle, valves, or heart rhythm.
High blood pressure is a common condition associated with heart disease.
- High blood pressure means your heart is working too hard to pump blood, so there is increased pressure on the walls of your arteries.
- This can put you at risk of stroke or heart attack.
- High blood pressure is the second largest cause of kidney disease.
Many types of heart disease can be prevented or treated by making healthy lifestyle choices.
This includes eating a low-salt and low-fat diet, exercising, reducing stress, and quitting smoking if you’re a smoker.
Heart disease and chronic kidney disease
The heart and kidneys work closely together. When there is a problem with one, things can go wrong in the other.
Heart disease can cause chronic kidney disease, and kidney disease can also cause heart disease.
- When you have heart disease, your heart may not pump blood in the right way. Your heart may fill with blood.
- This increases pressure in the major vein connected to the kidneys, which can block and reduce the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the kidneys. This can lead to kidney disease.
- When the kidneys are not working well, your hormonal system, which regulates blood pressure, must work even harder to increase blood flow to the kidneys. When this happens, your heart is forced to pump more forcefully, which can lead to heart disease.
Early signs of kidney and heart disease should not be ignored
Rewarding ways to keep your heart healthy with dialysis treatments
Heart disease and dialysis
Heart disease is the most common cause of death among people on dialysis.
It’s important to work with your doctor to make some lifestyle changes that can reduce or worsen your chance of developing heart disease.
Prevention of heart disease in case of kidney disease:
- Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes
- Control your blood pressure if you have high blood pressure
- Balance calcium and phosphorous levels in the body
- Managing high cholesterol
- Follow a heart healthy diet
- Increase physical activity
- Take your medicines exactly as your doctor tells you to
- Quit smoking, if you smoke
- Talk to your doctor about medications you can take (such as low-dose aspirin to prevent a heart attack)
Symptoms of heart disease
Heart disease often has no symptoms until your heart and blood vessels are severely damaged.
If you have chronic kidney disease, you and your doctor can watch for any signs of heart disease closely — with blood work or by watching how you feel.
Heart disease symptoms depend on the type of heart disease you have. Some of the symptoms to look for are:
- Shortness of breath
- extreme tiredness
- Pain, numbness, weakness, or coldness in your legs or arms
- Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back
- Swelling in the legs, ankles and feet
- Irregular heartbeat that feels fast, pounding, or fluttering
- Dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting
Heart disease is easier to treat when caught early, so be sure to tell your doctor if you experience symptoms or have concerns about your risk.
Heart disease screening tests
If you have chronic kidney disease, your doctor will check you regularly for signs and symptoms of heart disease. This may include physical exams, asking you questions, and making sure you’re taking your prescribed medications as directed.
If you have symptoms, there are several tests your doctor may suggest. The type of test they recommend depends on the type of heart disease your doctor thinks you have. These tests may include blood work or a chest X-ray
Heart disease treatments
If you have heart disease or high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease, your doctor may prescribe medications to control heart disease or high blood pressure.
- Diuretics: They reduce blood pressure, remove excess fluid and help your kidneys eliminate water and salt.
- Ace inhibitors: Heart medications that dilate blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and improve blood flow.
- Beta-blockers: Medicines that reduce blood pressure by blocking adrenaline, which helps your heart beat slower and with less force.
- Aldosterone receptor blockers: A type of diuretic used to treat congestive heart failure (CHF).
Some of these medicines may cause kidney problems. Talk to your doctor about which medication is best for you.
Your doctor may also recommend an exercise program or suggest that you see a dietitian to create a heart- and kidney-friendly diet.
How to avoid heart disease Steps to reduce the risk of heart disease
The effect of kidney failure on the cardiovascular system
Heart disease prevention
The best way to prevent heart disease is to manage the problems that can lead to it. These include conditions such as anemia, high blood pressure, and problems with calcium and phosphorous levels.
Some other ways to keep your kidney and heart health on track are:
- Follow a diet low in salt and fat Get to know me Diet for heart patients with dialysis
- Weigh yourself regularly to notice fluid excess or dehydration
- Take your medicines exactly as your doctor tells you to
- Exercise daily to help lower blood pressure and improve heart and muscle function
- Control your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and blood fats
- Quit smoking if you are a smoker Get to know me Smoking and its effects on kidney patients
- Reduce stress in your life
In general, a heart-healthy diet is low in fat and salt. But since you also have chronic kidney disease, you may need to balance the levels of potassium, phosphorous, and fluids in your body.
Talk to your doctor about other ways to lower your chance of developing heart disease if you have chronic kidney disease.
Source: heart disease