What’s blood pressure got to do with it?

Close up of a manometer and a notebook.

News broke yesterday of the death of rock legend Tina Turner, and alongside the outpouring of grief and celebration of all she contributed to the music world, attention has turned to her possible cause of death and her health battles in recent years.

In an Instagram post uploaded on International World Kidney Day on 9th March of this year, Tina said “If I had known how high blood pressure and kidney disease are connected, I would have been spared a lot of suffering”. She further said:

My kidneys are victims of my not realising that my high blood pressure should have been treated with conventional medicine…I have put myself in great danger by refusing to face the reality that I need daily, lifelong therapy with medication.

According to Kidney Care UK, the UK’s leading kidney patient support charity, around 3.5 million people in the UK have chronic kidney disease, and the two biggest causes of this are uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension.

In the early stages of kidney disease many patients are often unaware that they have a problem, but over time waste products and toxins that are usually excreted in the urine instead build up in the body, leading to fluid retention, ankle swelling, and shortness of breath. If left untreated, or not treated adequately, kidney disease can progress to the point where it becomes fatal, and the only treatment options become dialysis and/or a transplant. It is estimated that 2 patients die every day in the UK waiting for a transplant.

High blood pressure affects 1 in 4 people in the UK, and 70% of people over 70 years of age. In addition to kidney disease, there is also a strong link between high blood pressure and coronary artery disease and stroke. According to Blood Pressure UK, the UK’s only charity dedicated to lowering the nation’s blood pressure:

High blood pressure is one of the most preventable and treatable health conditions. However, between 50-80% of people with high blood pressure do not take all of their prescribed medication.

Many patients dislike the idea of taking medication in the long term, but the potential consequences of high blood pressure are life changing, or indeed life terminating, so we cannot emphasise enough the value in exploring treatment options if your blood pressure is consistently raised.

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