Our kidneys are high-performance organs: they filter the entire blood volume up to 300 times a day. A total of up to 1,800 liters pass through the kidneys every day. In addition to the liver, they detoxify the body, regulate the water and salt balance and blood pressure. Even with limited kidney function, this still works for quite a long time. But once kidney tissue has been destroyed, it can no longer be repaired. Even if the kidneys are very ill and only work to a limited extent, you often don’t feel it.
High blood pressure and diabetes important risk factors
Two essential factors can trigger kidney weakness: Anyone who suffers from high blood pressure for a prolonged period of time and cannot be lowered easily with medication should therefore definitely have their kidney function tested. Permanently high blood pressure damages the blood vessels – and this also applies to the small kidney vessels. In every fifth dialysis patient, high blood pressure is the cause of chronic kidney weakness; every third is diabetic.
Early detection of kidney weakness is therefore of great importance. The creatinine level in the blood currently plays an important role: it only rises when kidney tissue is already damaged. Creatinine is produced constantly during muscle activity and is excreted by the kidneys. The worse the kidneys work, the higher the creatinine level in the blood.
Protein suPAR Key to kidney disease?
The researchers are now working on a test that can identify high-risk patients in advance. They are looking for factors in the blood that indicate the condition of the kidneys more accurately than creatinine. Now there is a new approach: the determination of the protein suPAR (Soluble urokinase type plasminogen activator stimulant receptor) in the blood. US researchers have analysed blood samples from
almost 3,700 people and examined how the suPAR value develops when they become kidney sick. The result: suPAR is not only a marker for kidney disease, but can also promote it itself. Conversely, for the researchers this means that kidney diseases have to be treated if the suPAR is removed from the blood. This works by means of a blood washing process known as plasmapheresis.
The researchers have already achieved positive results in the first small investigations, but the treatment is still a dream of the future. That is why it is important to prevent kidney weakness:
Tips for a healthy kidney:
Keep fit and active: exercise and sport help to counteract high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus. These diseases are the most common causes of kidney failure.
Control your blood sugar: If you have diabetes mellitus, make sure your blood sugar is stable. Diabetes mellitus damages the blood vessels – and the kidney consists of a multitude of tiny vessels that act like a filter.
Measure your blood pressure: High blood pressure is the second most common cause of kidney failure. To maintain kidney health, blood pressure should be below 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
Eat a healthy diet and keep your weight within the normal range: Being overweight often leads to high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus as concomitant diseases, which in turn can damage the kidneys.
Drink enough: A healthy person should drink 1.5 litres a day – even more in case of increased fluid loss. Stop smoking: Smoking is the “vessel killer” number one. Do not take over-the-counter painkillers over a longer period of time: The kidneys react sensitively to a “continuous bombardment” with many painkillers.
Have your kidney function checked annually by your family doctor if you meet one of these risk factors: 1. You are over 60 years old; 2. You have diabetes mellitus. 3. you have high blood pressure. 4. you are severely overweight 5. a first-degree member of your family has kidney failure.