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March is National Kidney Month, and March 11 through 17 is Brain Awareness Week, making this week’s topic very fitting. Kidney, brain and heart all team up to become a dynamic trio for health this month and every month. If you have a loved one in hospice in San Francisco and elsewhere, you know the importance of these three components and how they can all impact one another.

Brain and Kidney

A new study, in fact, suggests that kidney problems can increase the risk of brain disorders, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Researchers found a powerful link between poor kidney function and a decreased blood flow to the brain. In addition, those who have kidney problems are at a higher risk of dementia, stroke and memory problems. The takeaway? Protecting the kidneys will benefit the brain. This is just one way in which two major systems of the body can impact each other in far-reaching ways.

ScienceDaily says new research shows decreased kidney function is linked with decreased cognitive functioning in areas like abstract reasoning, global cognitive ability, and verbal memory. Turns out the rate of cognitive decline is associated with deterioration in kidney function. It’s not surprising, then, that the brain and kidney are both affected greatly by the cardiovascular systems, especially when it comes to blood pressure and hypertension. The greater the decrease in renal functioning, the greater the decrease in cognitive functioning.

This is why it’s important to be diagnosed correctly and early so chronic kidney disease can be managed to lessen the impact on cognitive functioning.

Heart and Kidney

The heart and kidneys are two of the most important organs in your body, working in tandem to help you stay healthy. Each one affects the other.

The heart’s job is to pump blood filled with oxygen to every part of your body, thus keeping every cell, organ, and system alive. The heart, blood and blood vessels comprise your cardiovascular system, which helps to move blood from the heart carrying oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Along the way, it also picks up waste products so your body can purge them.

The kidneys, two bean-shaped organs the size of your fist, are powerful chemical factories that perform a number of functions. They:

  • Clean the blood of waste products and excess water
  • Control blood pressure
  • Keep bones healthy and strong
  • Assist in making red blood cells
  • Balance out the minerals in your blood, such as sodium and potassium

Both the heart and kidneys work together, whereby the heart pumps blood filled with oxygen through the body, including your kidneys. Without the help of the heart, kidneys would not get the oxygen-rich blood required to do its job. And without the help of your kidneys, the heart would cease to function or not work nearly as hard as it should.

When your heart or kidneys can’t function properly, this can result in cardiovascular disease or kidney disease. Having kidney disease directly affects the chances you have of getting heart disease. And having heart disease increases your chances of getting kidney disease. Both diseases, in fact, share several of the same risk factors, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Keeping Your Heart and Kidneys Healthy

To increase your kidney and heart health, you should:

  • Get regular physical activity
  • Lose weight if you have to
  • Eat less fat
  • Maintain normal blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood fats
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce overall stress

Arteriosclerosis and the Brain

Arteriosclerosis, is a progressive disease that involves a hardening of the arteries. But it doesn’t just affect the heart. It affects the whole body. When plaque starts to clog up the arteries, it becomes difficult for oxygen-rich blood to flow throughout the body. This spells bad news for the heart, of course, but is also bad for the legs, feet, kidneys and the brain. If you develop arteriosclerosis in the arteries leading to your brain, you may experience sudden numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, slurred speech or difficulty speaking, temporary vision loss in one eye, or drooping facial muscles. When untreated, this can lead to stroke, points out the Mayo Clinic.

Heart-Kidney-Brain Network

Heart failure is a complex clinical syndrome marked by insufficient cardiac function. In addition to abnormalities in the heart, dysfunction of other organs can impact the development and effects of heart failure. The heart and kidneys function together to get an adaptive response to cardiac pressure overload. A recent study by the National Institutes of Health shows a dynamic network involving the heart, brain and kidneys that is needed to properly respond to cardiac stress.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

We offer complete home health and hospice services here at Pathways, with a focus on dementia care. Contact us today at 888-978-1306 to learn more.