Many in the Chronic Kidney Disease Community know that the most common cause of death in Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients is Cardiovascular Disease (heart conditions that include diseased vessels, structural problems, and blood clots). However, many do not realize that a key cause of Cardiovascular Disease may be due in part to an excess buildup of calcium on the heart (Vascular Calcification). A study released in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology aptly noted, "Vascular Calcification: The Killer of Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease." Over time the buildup of calcium can harden arteries, causing the heart to work harder and reduce blood flow which can, in turn, cause very serious and life-threatening medical problems. Yet there are actions that Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients can take to improve their health and even help to reverse calcium buildup in the heart.
According to Kidneyresearchuk.org, common symptoms of Vascular Calcification include: Itchy skin, red eyes, weak and brittle bones, bone pain, and Dialysis may be more difficult because of an impaired heart and circulatory condition. X-rays are the most common diagnostic tools used to detect calcification. "There is no discomfort during the procedure, and your doctor should be able to detect any problems right away," reported Healthline.com.
If your Nephrologist or Cardiologist has diagnosed you with Vascular Calcification consider these lifestyle and dietary changes which might help reduce the buildup, as well as protect your heart from future damage.
1. Exercise pays off: You can literally take steps to improve heart health and reduce further calcification. When your aortic arteries (almost every artery in the body branches off of the aorta) are flexible and clean, you are less likely to develop further calcification. "Exercise is one important way to accomplish this goal," said Live Strong. The American Heart Association recommends that patients get 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week to help protect their hearts. This is approximately 22 minutes a day of walking, jogging, running or dancing.
2. Eating plenty of nutritious foods: By eating foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients may help to reduce their risk and get rid of calcium deposits on their hearts, suggested Live Strong. Ask your Dietitian for specific dietary changes that are best for you given your health history.
3. Binders: Phosphate binders taken with food help to control the amount of phosphate that Dialysis patients take in from each meal, but are commonly filled with calcium. Consider talking to your Healthcare Team about transferring to a low calcium binder alternative.
4. Monitor procedures: It is now thought possible that some of the measures to prevent Bone Disease in Dialysis patients may, in fact, worsen calcification by increasing the levels of calcium in the blood. This is something to bring to your Nephrologists attention and determine best options.
The Mayo Clinic noted that mild cases of aortic calcification might not require treatment. More serious cases, which occur when one of your heart valves becomes extremely narrow, might require aortic valve replacement surgery.
What are some of the ways that you improve your heart health? What types of foods do you eat or avoid, and what sort of exercise do you conduct? Visit the KidneyBuzz.com Facebook Page and share your response with the over 37,000 Friends (click here). Also, stop by KidneyBuzz.com (1.2 million visitors in the past twelve months) every day for the latest breaking news and information which teaches those with Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, Kidney Transplant, Diabetes, and High Blood Pressure how to better manage and improve their lives.