Patient Education for Kidney Health

For more than 90 years, Baptist Health has been delivering quality healthcare to the citizens of Arkansas. As part of our mission, we are committed to promoting health education like the resources found below. For even more comprehensive health education, visit our health encyclopedia.

Quiz: Kidney Stones 

Kidney stones are one of the most common problems of the urinary tract—and one of the most painful disorders. How much do you know about kidney stones? Take this short quiz and find out.
Click here to take the Kidney Stones quiz

Keep Your Kidneys Working Well

Your kidneys are your body's filters. They remove waste and excess fluid from your blood. People who have high blood pressure and diabetes are at higher risk for kidney disease because of the way these conditions damage the blood vessels and other parts of these vital organs.
Once kidney damage starts, it can be slowed, but it can't always be reversed. That's why prevention is crucial. These steps can help keep your kidneys healthy:
  • Drink plenty of water. Healthy people can let thirst be their guide. If you've already had kidney stones, you may be advised to drink at least three to four quarts of water daily to lessen your risk of forming a new stone.
  • Eat nutritiously and exercise. You may not associate food and physical activity with kidney disease, but a balanced diet and regular exercise help prevent or control diabetes and high blood pressure, two risk factors for kidney disease. A good eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nonfat or low-fat dairy products. Proteins such as lean meats, poultry and fish are included. To reduce disease risk, adults should exercise at a moderate pace for 30 minutes or more on most days.
  • Don't smoke. Cigarette smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 40 percent.
  • Talk with your doctor about appropriate medical tests. All adults should have their blood pressure checked periodically. If you're at risk for kidney disease, your doctor also may recommend regular blood or urine tests.
  • Follow your doctor's advice. Especially if you have diabetes or high blood pressure. Following your doctor's advice and taking your medications as directed may help reduce your risk of long-term complications such as kidney failure.

High Blood Pressure Can Damage Kidneys

Most people know that high blood pressure puts you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke. But you might be surprised to learn that high blood pressure (140/90), also called hypertension, is a leading cause of kidney disease in the United States.
High blood pressure can damage the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys that filter waste out of the blood. This affects the kidneys' ability to function and causes waste to build up. The damage usually occurs slowly, over many years, and may not cause any symptoms at first. Often the only way to find out whether the kidneys have been damaged is with one of two tests: a urine test or a blood test.
Since high blood pressure doesn't cause symptoms for many years, a lot of damage is done to the kidney vessels before treatments are started. By then, the kidney vessels are so scarred they will not heal. If the kidneys fail completely, the only options are dialysis or a kidney transplant.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) says that high blood pressure causes more than 25,000 new cases of kidney failure every year. If kidney disease is caught in the early stages, though, it is possible to take steps to help the kidneys function for as long as possible.
One of the most important ways to maintain kidney function is by controlling blood pressure. Many people can keep their blood pressure under control by making lifestyle changes, including: maintaining a healthy weight, limiting daily sodium intake, exercising, quitting smoking, reducing stress and limiting alcohol consumption. For others, lifestyle changes are not enough to reduce blood pressure levels and medication may be necessary.