High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects about 60 to 70 percent of Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) patients and begins early in the course of the disease. Half of PKD patients who have normal kidney function have hypertension and it is more common in men than in women. Many times, the increase in blood pressure is the first sign of PKD. Patients with high blood pressure generally have larger cystic kidneys than those with normal blood pressure.
High blood pressure can constrict and narrow the blood vessels, which eventually damages and weakens them throughout the body, including in the kidneys. The narrowing reduces blood flow.
If the kidneys’ blood vessels are damaged, they may no longer work properly and when this happens, the kidneys are not able to remove all wastes and extra fluid from the body.
Extra fluid in the blood vessels can raise a person’s blood pressure even more, creating a dangerous cycle, and cause more damage leading to kidney failure.
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Why it occurs
Much has been learned to understand how hypertension occurs.
In general, there is either an increase in cardiac output or constriction of the blood vessels.
Polycystic kidney disease can also cause cysts to develop in the liver and elsewhere in the body.
The disease can cause serious complications, including high blood pressure and kidney failure.
“In PKD, enlarging cysts may press on blood vessels in the kidney which increases activity of the renin-angiotensin aldosterone system,” added the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation.
Ways to lower your blood pressure reading:
- Take the blood pressure medications prescribed by your doctor as directed
- Eat a low-salt diet containing plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Maintain a healthy weight
- If you smoke, quit
- Exercise regularly
- Limit alcohol use