You probably never thought dialysis and vascular disease would be in the same sentence, but they are closely related. Vascular disease has a strong correlation to kidney problems. In fact, vascular disease is the primary cause of death for those with kidney disease. How do the vascular system and kidneys connect? Well, without the kidneys, your blood could not get cleaned. The kidneys are like the washer machine for the blood. It cleans it of all the bad stuff, like alcohol for instance. The renal arteries control blood flow to the kidney. If these arteries are blocked or narrowed in any way, not only will you develop vascular disease, but your kidneys will suffer.
The kidneys are the filtering system for the blood. They remove waste and help control blood pressure. The waste that is removed turns into urine. If certain substances are found in urine, it is due to the kidneys removing it from the body. The kidneys also balance the electrolytes it the body. We hear the word electrolytes in Gatorade commercials, but they are an important nutrient. When electrolytes are not balanced, we have fluctuations in our heart beat and our muscles will not even function properly. The renal artery supplies the kidney with the blood it needs. The renal vein is used to take the deoxygenated blood back to the heart. The renal arteries and veins are a part of the vascular system. If anything goes wrong with either of these structures, you will end up having kidney problems.
The renal arteries and veins are susceptible to stenosis (narrowing). Plaques can build up on these structures and limit the blood flow to and from the kidneys. When there is not enough blood flow to the kidneys, the blood will not get cleaned, and it results in other issues like high or low blood pressure. Stenosis almost always leads to high blood pressure; in more cases than not, high blood pressure is primarily caused by kidney problems. When there is not enough blood getting to the kidneys, the pressure builds up, and the kidney decreases in size. When only one kidney is affected, you usually only have high blood pressure because the other kidney is still functioning properly. When both kidneys are affected, renal failure is the result. Renal failure may be acute or chronic. Acute renal failure is the worsening of kidney function. The kidneys can still function, but they are at a high risk of complete failure. Chronic renal failure is when the kidneys are no longer able to function.
Beginning stage renal failure can be treated. If you can get your high blood pressure under control, you can prevent the loss of kidney function. Once your kidneys completely shut down, you have to undergo dialysis. Dialysis not only helps do the job of the kidneys but it also helps the vascular system operate properly. The process of dialysis is not always easy, but it is very necessary for survival, especially if you reach the point of end-stage renal failure.
Methods of Dialysis
Dialysis is the process of using a machine to clean your blood. The machine does the same thing as the kidneys. It helps to keep the body balanced. There are two methods for dialysis. The first method is Hemodialysis. This method is probably the most familiar because it uses a machine. The machine includes a filter known as a dialyzer. The dialyzer acts like a kidney. Sometimes it is called an artificial kidney. The dialyzer has a membrane that filters out the bad stuff and keeps the good stuff. This procedure is done in a hospital setting where a technician or someone can set it up and turn it off when it is done.
The second method of dialysis is peritoneal dialysis. Peritoneal dialysis uses the peritoneal membrane to filter the blood. A catheter is placed into the abdomen, and a cleansing fluid is inserted. The fluid filters out the waste in the blood. The fluid takes some time to operate, but once it is done the waste will come out through the catheter in the abdomen. This procedure does not have to be done in the hospital. You can do this on your own at home or anywhere. You just need the catheter and the equipment, and you are good to go. This is great for people who do not want to be in the hospital, and it gives them more freedom.
Dialysis is a life-saver for most. If you are suffering from kidney failure, without dialysis, you would not be able to clean your blood. It all connects with the vascular system because, in order for the kidneys to work properly, the renal arteries and veins have to do their job. Dialysis not only helps with kidney function, but it keeps your blood pressure leveled as well. You may have initially thought dialysis only affects the kidneys, but now you know it works to treat much more than that.
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