People with kidney disease at higher risk for heart disease: Take charge and reduce risks through good nutrition and self-care

(BPT) – Heart disease is a big problem in the United States, especially for the more than 20 million Americans living with kidney disease. That’s because kidney disease causes a variety of health problems that make it harder for the heart to pump blood effectively. But if you’ve got kidney disease, take heart – there are a number of things you can do to help stave off cardiovascular disease.

“Exercise, self-care and good nutrition – including getting enough of key vitamins and avoiding certain additives – are vital to protecting the heart,” said Joy Lutz-Mizar, RD, senior director of nutrition services for Fresenius Kidney Care, a long-standing leader in caring for nearly 200,000 people with kidney disease at more than 2,200 dialysis clinics around the country. “Dietitians can be especially helpful to people living with kidney disease who want to do the right thing and need help.”

Lutz-Mizar recommends people with kidney disease do the following to help protect themselves against heart disease.

Start with good nutrition – What you consume can help keep your heart healthy.

* Eat well – To protect your heart, avoid fatty and greasy foods, especially those that come from animals. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and eggs. Try eating cold water fish such as salmon, which is high in heart-protective omega 3 fatty acids.?

* Avoid phosphate additives – Avoid foods with the letters P-H-O-S in the ingredient list.?Those letters mean the food contains phosphate additives that may contribute to clogged arteries in the heart.

* Get enough of the right vitamins – Take a daily renal multivitamin. People with kidney disease may not get enough folic acid and other B vitamins – which may help reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke – due to other diet restrictions.

* Increase vitamin D intake – Everyone needs vitamin D for a healthy heart and strong bones. People with kidney disease don’t adequately convert the inactive forms of vitamin D from milk, nutritional supplements and sun exposure to active vitamin D. So, in addition to those sources, you may need a special active form of vitamin D. Be sure your doctor checks your vitamin D levels regularly to see if you also need to take nutritional supplements of vitamin D at home.

* Ease up on fluids and salt – Kidney disease makes it difficult for you to eliminate fluids, which makes your heart work harder and causes it to enlarge and work less efficiently. So watch your fluid intake, and avoid salty foods, which make you thirsty.

* Learn more about healthy eating Fresenius Kidney Care offers tips for eating right, from suggestions for kidney-friendly staples to stock in your pantry to recipes for healthy and tasty meals.

Reduce the risk of infection – Eating well and getting plenty of rest and exercise will help you reduce the risk of infection. That’s important because infections and inflammation increase the risk of heart disease.

Manage blood pressure – Eating healthy, saying “no” to the salt shaker, and taking special medications if necessary can help you lower your blood pressure. That can slow the progression of heart disease as well as kidney disease.

Taking steps to protect yourself against heart disease is important, particularly for those living with kidney disease. Fresenius Kidney Care helps people with the physical and emotional challenges of kidney disease so they can lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, which includes providing high-quality, personalized care, resources and support.

“We help people thrive by keeping their kidneys and hearts as healthy as possible,” said Lutz-Mizar. For more tips or to learn more about kidney disease, visit

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