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Kidneys & urology

Chronic kidney failure, diabetes and high blood pressure among risk factors

January 1, 2018


When kidney function is compromised and the kidneys do not function properly, chronic renal failure is mentioned. What is the relationship between this disease and lifestyles and how do you need to correct your habits once you are diagnosed with the disease? We talk about this topic with Dr. Leonardo Spatola, nephrologist at Humanitas.


The health of the kidneys is at risk if diseases such as diabetes or disorders such as hypertension have arisen. Among the risk factors of chronic kidney failure, in fact, besides diseases directly affecting the kidneys – from kidney infection to the so-called polycystic kidney, a hereditary disease, to glomerulonephritis – there are others that affect other districts of the body.


These include hypertension and diabetes, but also hypercholesterolemia. Therefore, conducting a healthy lifestyle that helps reduce the risk of these diseases or control their evolution can help preserve kidney function. Keeping weight under control, reducing the intake of salt and saturated and trans fats, and regular physical activity are all key elements to prevent increased pressure or cholesterol values.


Diabetes, high blood pressure and hypercholesterolemia are all important and frequent risk factors for the development of chronic kidney disease. In fact, diabetes in the USA is estimated to cause about 40% of cases of chronic kidney failure through different mechanisms such as not adequately controlled hyperglycemia, insulin resistance and non-enzymatic glycation products,” recalls Dr. Spatola. Hypertension and hypercholesterolemia – he continues – cause vascular damage to the kidney vessels, progressively inducing ischemia and chronic kidney failure”.

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The health of the kidneys is linked to that of the entire urinary tract

“Urinary calculi and upper urinary tract infections (acute pyelonephritis, renal abscess) are recognized as risk factors for chronic renal failure. In particular – the expert explains – calculi, both through direct damage at the level of the renal calyxes and through an obstructive mechanism, would initially induce acute renal damage, which, if persistent, can evolve in a chronic disorder”.


Calculi also represent a risk factor for urinary tract infections and vice versa, so diagnosis and treatment would not only allow for the resolution of these diseases but also, from a prognostic point of view, reduce the risk of developing chronic kidney failure”.


A little salt in the diet

If chronic kidney failure is diagnosed, the treatment also requires a change in lifestyle choices: “It is important to correct all detectable risk factors (smoking, arterial hypertension, uncontrolled diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, etc.) in the case of diagnosis of chronic kidney failure by setting up a correct diet and avoiding excessive carbohydrates, lipids and alcohol”.


A hyposodic diet with an introduction of salt of less than 3g per day as well as daily physical exercise of at least thirty minutes per day such as walking or cycling, etc. are strongly recommended by the European Society of Arterial Hypertension and the European Society of Nephrology,” concludes Dr. Spatola.

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