InaSH and Bayer Indonesia held a discussion on hypertension and kidney problems in Jakarta on Thursday. (JG Photo/Diana Mariska)

Watch Your Blood Pressure to Avoid Kidney Problems

BY :DIANA MARISKA

OCTOBER 17, 2019

Jakarta. According to 2018 data from the Health Ministry, more than 34 percent of Indonesia's 265 million population suffer from hypertension, up from 28 percent five years earlier. Now experts are saying that high blood pressure can also lead to increased risks of kidney failure.

The data also showed that 32 percent of Indonesians who suffer from hypertension do not take their medication regularly while 13 percent do not even take any medication. 

In Indonesia, hypertension is the main cause of kidney failure that requires clinical purification of blood by dialysis.

"Hypertension causes 35 percent of the cases where patients have to undergo dialysis because of kidney failure. The corresponding number for diabetes is 25 percent. After BPJS [the national health insurance scheme] was introduced [in 2014], we saw a significant rise in the number of patients undergoing this treatment," Tunggul D. Situmorang, the chairman of the Indonesian Society of Hypertension (InaSH), said.

Tunggul was speaking at a media discussion with InaSH and Bayer Indonesia last week that was part of an InaSH campaign called "Fighting Hypertension Movement." 

Tunggul, who also practices as a nephrologist (kidney doctor) at RCCC Siloam Hospitals Semanggi, said there is a common misconception among Indonesians that the only symptom of a kidney problem is pains in your side.

"Most side pain is caused by kidney stones, which can be prevented and cured. It won't necessarily turn into kidney failure. Kidney problems are more complex, especially ones caused by hypertension and diabetes," he said. 

High blood pressure – indicated by a systolic pressure above 140 mmHg – can damage arteries around the kidney and disrupt the functions of the vital organ.

"The kidney controls water and mineral balance in our body; it also controls the body's pH balance, excretes waste from the body, synthesizes hormones and creates new blood cells – which is why people with kidney problems usually have a pale complexion," Tunggul said. 

Cloudy and foamy urine is also a sign of a damaged kidney, he said.

"Proteinuria is the presence of protein that's not supposed to be in the urine. [When that happens], the urine is cloudy and foamy. This can also indicate increased risks of a heart attack.”

Since hypertension can lead to kidney failure, taking medication to lower blood pressure will also protect the kidney. 

Research on the elderly also suggests that lowering the blood pressure over time will save the kidney.

"High systole will significantly disrupt the kidney's functions. Studies show that controlling the blood pressure will affect [kidney functions] positively," Tunggul said.

Lifestyle Changes

According to the nephrologist, changing our lifestyle can also help us lower blood pressure and prevent kidney failures. They include losing extra pounds, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, reducing salt intake, drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking, drinking less coffee and managing stress. 

People should also monitor their blood pressure regularly – at home or by seeing a doctor – and get medical help when needed.

Tunggul said people should not be afraid to take their medication for hypertension for fear that it may harm their kidneys. He said most medication for hypertension is safe and will actually protect the kidney as well.

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