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Exploring the Role and Function of the Kidneys

Hypertension

Hypertension is commonly known as high blood pressure. It is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease among Canadian patients.  It occurs when the force of blood pushing against your blood vessel walls is greater than normal. Your blood pressure consists of a systolic and diastolic reading. The top number, or systolic pressure, on a blood pressure machine represents the force applied against the vessel wall when your heart contracts. The bottom number or the diastolic pressure, represents the pressure exerted when the heart refills with blood. The target blood pressure is generally below 130/80 mmHg, however the target may vary depending on the person’s age and comorbidities.

The impact of high blood pressure can eventually lead to kidney failure. The mechanism by which the kidneys are damaged results from constant stretching of the small blood vessels located in the nephron, and the repeated sheer stress on the vessel wall causing scar formation. Overtime, blood vessel will harden or weaken creating less efficient water and waste filtration.  Other complications resulting from untreated hypertension include stroke, heart attack, heart failure, dementia, and retinopathy (vision impairment).