Feb 17, 2022
American Heart Month is the Right Time to Learn About Kidney Health

Approximately one in two adults in the U.S. has hypertension (high blood pressure)—but only an estimated one in four have it under control.

“High blood pressure is a symptomless ‘silent killer’ that quietly damages blood vessels and leads to serious health problems,” says Dr. Takiyah R. Wilson, vice president of health strategies for the Colorado divisions of the American Heart Association. “When left untreated, the damage that high blood pressure has on the circulatory system is a significant contributing factor to heart attack, stroke and other health threats, including kidney failure.”

In fact, hypertension is the second-leading cause of kidney disease.

“The kidneys and circulatory system rely on each other for good health,” adds Dr. Wilson. “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.”

An estimated 37 million U.S. adults have kidney disease, but it’s estimated that 90% don’t realize they have the condition. According to Dr. Wilson, high blood pressure can take years to contribute to and lead to the development of kidney disease—which is why getting blood pressure checked and managed is important to limiting risk.

During American Heart Month, DaVita Kidney Care encourages those with risk factors, like hypertension, to learn more about the connection between their kidneys and their heart health.

Kidney Disease Education Can Help

Through education programs, like Kidney Smart, individuals can learn more about their health risks—including conditions like hypertension that many people might not realize affect their kidneys.

Kidney Smart, which is celebrating 10 years of holistic kidney disease education this year, provides expert knowledge from kidney disease experts. But the holistic curriculum also offers attendees engaging opportunities to learn how other health conditions, like hypertension, play a role in kidney health.

“It’s common for people with kidney disease to have comorbid conditions,” Arlene Valdivia, a Kidney Smart educator, says. “Our curriculum takes into account that many of our attendees aren’t just managing their kidney health—they’re also working with care teams to manage conditions like diabetes and hypertension.”

And while the curriculum includes information about dialysis modalities to empower people as they work with their physicians to choose the right treatment option for them, Kidney Smart is designed for people with kidney disease who are not yet on dialysis.

DaVita Kidney Care started moving kidney care “upstream”—focusing on care for individuals with kidney disease before they reach kidney failure—more than 10 years ago with both government and commercial programs focused on caring for individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The kidney care provider continues to launch new programs and models of care designed to help slow and, when possible, halt the progression of kidney disease.

Kidney Smart® classes can help this by providing participants not just useful knowledge but also key nutrition recommendations and lifestyle ideas that can have a positive impact on overall health while also targeting kidney health.

More than 235,000 people have attended Kidney Smart classes, either in person in their communities or through virtual offerings, since the program began. And in 2021, the program had a record-setting 28,000 participants. During American Heart Month, Kidney Smart added an additional 57 classes to its schedule, providing additional access to comprehensive health education related to kidney disease.


To learn more and sign up for a Kidney Smart class, please visit KidneySmart.org.