Whenever you feel that urge to urinate, thank your kidneys.
Every day, your kidneys filter about 120 to 150 quarts of blood, producing approximately 1 to 2 quarts of urine.
Nephrologists treat diseases of the kidneys. Kidneys are bean-shaped organs located near the middle of the back, under the rib cage. Each kidney contains about 1 million tiny structures called nephrons, which are responsible for filtering the waste and extra fluids from the blood, sending needed minerals from the blood back into the bloodstream and removing waste. The final product they create is urine.
Many people with kidney disease also need to be treated for hypertension. This is high blood pressure — the force of blood pushing against the blood vessel walls is consistently too high.
At Stormont Vail Health, our nephrology providers are all board certified in both nephrology and hypertension. This means they are required to have ongoing education to stay up-to-date with the latest advances in treatment, patient safety and providing quality health care. This means that your physician is committed to providing exceptional, advanced care.
As you go through treatment for kidney disease or hypertension, we recommend that you continue to see your primary care provider. They can provide other services, such as annual physical exams or immunizations, to make sure that your body is healthy and strong.
Why Do We Treat Kidney Disease and Hypertension Together?
In order to filter wastes and extra fluids from the blood, kidneys rely on blood vessels. When blood pressure is too high, it can damage vessels. The nephrons in the kidneys do not get the nutrients or oxygen they need to function correctly. Over time, uncontrolled hypertension can make vessels around the kidneys weaken, narrow, or harden. The kidneys do not get enough blood to do their job.
The relationship between kidney disease and high blood pressure works both ways. If the kidneys are not filtering well, extra fluid can get caught in the blood vessels. This can raise blood pressure even more, starting a vicious cycle where each condition worsens the other.
Conditions We Treat
Chronic Kidney DiseaseChronic kidney disease is a gradual loss of kidney function. It is often caused by diabetes, high blood pressure, or glomerulonephritis (swelling of the filtering units in the kidneys). Without treatment, chronic kidney disease can cause serious complications, such as heart disease or complete kidney failure. Symptoms develop over time, and may include nausea, vomiting, changes in how much you urinate, difficulty sleeping, muscle twitches, cramps, chest pain, or shortness of breath.
Kidney Transplant CareKidney failure occurs when your kidneys stop working. In this case, you will need treatment to take over the blood filtering process. Sometimes, this may mean getting a transplant to replace your failed kidney with a healthy one from a living or deceased donor. You need close care and monitoring before and after the procedure to make sure that your body is healthy enough for surgery, and that your new kidney is functioning correctly.
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the blood vessels. High blood pressure can cause serious damage to the heart and kidneys, increasing your risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.
Electrolyte ImbalancesElectrolytes are minerals in the blood, tissues, urine and other bodily fluids. They help you balance the amount of water and acidity in your body, move nutrients into cells and remove wastes from cells. They are also responsible for ensuring that your muscles, nerves, heart and brain work correctly. An imbalance is when the electrolyte level is too high or too low. This makes it difficult for the electrolytes to do their jobs, and can also cause symptoms such as muscle cramps or headaches.
Kidney StonesUrine contains minerals and salts. Kidney stones are solid pieces of material that form in the kidney when mineral and salt levels are too high. They leave the body through urine. Small stones can often pass through the body by themselves without causing any pain. However, larger ones can get stuck, blocking urine flow and causing pain.
Our Treatments and Services
We will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan based on your type of condition and symptoms.
The type of treatment also depends on how far along a disease has progressed. For example, if kidney damage has just started, we may prescribe medications to control blood pressure and stop the disease from worsening. But if you have end-stage kidney disease, where your kidneys can no longer function, you may need dialysis.
Common treatments and services include:
- Medication to control blood pressure, lower cholesterol, protect your bones, or treat other symptoms caused by kidney disease (e.g. fatigue, weakness).
- Recommendations for diet changes, such as eating less salt to control blood pressure, or eating heart-healthy foods (e.g. lean meats, fish, vegetables) to prevent fat from building up in the blood vessels and kidneys.
- Recommendations for exercise and physical activity, such as jogging or bicycling, to control blood pressure.
- Dialysis to perform the job of the kidneys when they can no longer function.
- Hemodialysis: A machine removes waste products and excess fluids from the body through a special modification to your blood vessels, known as an arteriovenous (AV) fistula.
- Peritoneal dialysis: A thin tube is inserted into your abdomen to filter the blood.
One of the later-stage treatment options is a kidney transplant. This involves top-notch specialists replacing your kidney with a healthy one from a deceased or living donor.
After a transplant, we will monitor your health closely. You will need to take medication for the rest of your life to ensure that your body does not reject (attack) the new kidney. You will also need to continue to follow a healthy eating plan and keep your blood pressure at a normal level.
Meet Our Nephrologists and Providers
Our nephrology team is committed to providing the most current and advanced care to patients with kidney disorders or hypertension.