Nearly 50% of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension. More than 1 in 7 have chronic kidney disease. With such high percentages, it’s likely you or someone you know has one or both of these conditions.

In fact, hypertension and kidney disease are more closely related than you may realize. Having either condition can lead to the development of the other.

High blood pressure can damage arteries and organs throughout the body, including the kidneys. On the other hand, if you have kidney disease, the extra fluid and toxins left in the body from poor filtering can lead to high blood pressure.

During the early stages of hypertension or kidney disease, you may not experience any symptoms. However, as the conditions progress and become more severe, symptoms may appear.

Symptoms of hypertension and kidney disease can vary, but here are 10 symptoms you’re most likely to have and what you should do about them if they do materialize.

Swelling, or edema, can occur because damaged kidneys are unable to get rid of extra fluid and salt in the body. Edema is most likely to occur in the legs, feet, and ankles. It can also occur in the hands or face.

You may experience muscle cramps from fluid and electrolyte imbalances from poor kidney filtering. Blood flow problems can also cause people with hypertension and kidney disease to feel muscle cramps.

When the kidneys are not fully functioning, compounds can build up in the body, making you feel too sick, tired, or full to eat. Your sense of taste can also be impaired.

This can all cause a lack of appetite, which can lead to weight loss, too.

As damaged kidneys allow waste and fluids to build up in the body, feelings of nausea and vomiting can occur.

As hypertension progresses and increases pressure in arteries throughout the body, you may experience greater pressure in the arteries within the cranium, which can lead to headaches.

Additionally, as toxins build up in the body, it can affect the brain and lead to confusion.

Hypertension and kidney disease can start a cycle where the progression of one condition causes the progression of the other.

Already elevated high blood pressure can continue to rise as poorly functioning kidneys cause the body to retain more fluids.

An increased urge to urinate (especially at nighttime) can be a sign of developing kidney disease.

However, as kidney disease progresses, you may find yourself going to the bathroom less often as the damaged kidneys filter fewer fluids and waste out of the blood.

Chronic kidney disease has been linked to an increased probability of sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. (Having sleep apnea can also increase your risk of hypertension.)

Having more toxins in the blood can also make it harder to sleep.

As toxins build up in the body, you may find that you feel itchy or develop a rash. An imbalance of minerals and nutrients in the blood can cause skin discoloration.

Excess liquids in the body can lead to a buildup of fluid in the lungs. This can make it harder to breathe and result in chest pain.

Additionally, hypertension can lead to arteries becoming less elastic. This can also lead to angina.

Symptoms and treatments may vary

It’s important to remember that the above-described symptoms and signs of hypertension and kidney disease can vary from person to person.

You may not experience any symptoms, but you may also have more than one symptom at the same time.

All of that can affect the specific treatment options. Make sure to discuss this with your healthcare team.

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Hypertension and kidney disease are frequently addressed with lifestyle changes and medications.

Some lifestyle changes your healthcare professional may suggest include:

  • reducing or completely eliminating alcohol use
  • quitting smoking
  • increasing physical activity
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • eating a heart-healthy diet filled with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • decreasing the amount of stress in your life

Depending on the severity of your conditions, your doctor may suggest a combination of medications, which may include:

Doctors believe that medications used to lower blood pressure may also slow the progression of chronic kidney disease.

ACE inhibitors and ARBs are thought to help slow the progression of kidney decline by keeping blood vessels from narrowing and tightening. Diuretics can also help the kidneys remove sodium and fluids from the blood.

Blood pressure medications do carry some kidney-related risks, though. For example, research indicates that the combination of ibuprofen, diuretics, and renin angiotensin system (RAS) inhibitors can increase the risk of acute kidney injury.

Research from 2021 has also raised questions about whether long-term use of ACE inhibitors may contribute to kidney failure.

Researchers noted that people should continue to take their prescribed ACE inhibitors since they can be lifesaving and play an important role in the treatment of hypertension. But they do state more research into any potential long-term implications for the kidneys is needed.

You can experience a range of symptoms if you have high blood pressure and kidney disease. If you believe that you are showing signs of hypertension or kidney disease, talk with a doctor to get a diagnosis and start treatment.

In many cases, treating the conditions will help relieve some of the symptoms you’re experiencing and improve your overall quality of life.