Can HBP cause kidney failure?
Your kidneys and your circulatory system depend on each other for good health. The kidneys help filter wastes and extra fluids from blood, and they use a lot of blood vessels to do so. When the blood vessels become damaged, the nephrons that filter your blood don’t receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to function well. This is why high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) is the second leading cause of kidney failure. Over time, uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause arteries around the kidneys to narrow, weaken or harden. These damaged arteries are not able to deliver enough blood to the kidney tissue.
How your kidneys work
Your kidneys are a pair of regulatory organs located on either side of your back. Their main function is to act as a filter system that removes waste products and excess fluid from the body.
Over time, high blood pressure harms renal blood vessels
The nephrons in the kidneys are supplied with a dense network of blood vessels, and high volumes of blood flow through them. Over time, uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause arteries around the kidneys to narrow, weaken or harden. These damaged arteries are not able to deliver enough blood to the kidney tissue.
- Damaged kidney arteries do not filter blood well.
Kidneys have small, finger-like nephrons that filter your blood. Each nephron receives its blood supply through tiny hair-like capillaries, the smallest of all blood vessels. When the arteries become damaged, the nephrons do not receive the essential oxygen and nutrients — and the kidneys lose their ability to filter blood and regulate the fluid, hormones, acids and salts in the body.
- Damaged kidneys fail to regulate blood pressure.
Healthy kidneys produce a hormone called aldosterone to help the body regulate blood pressure. Kidney damage and uncontrolled high blood pressure each contribute to a negative spiral. As more arteries become blocked and stop functioning, the kidneys eventually fail.
Protect your kidneys by managing your blood pressure
Kidney failure due to high blood pressure is a cumulative process that can take years to develop. But, you can limit your risk by managing your blood pressure.
This content was last reviewed October 2016.