by Caitlin Carter, MD
Kidney disease from diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure in the United States. Fortunately, diabetes usually takes many years to cause kidney damage. If you have decreased kidney function or protein in your urine (microalbuminuria) from diabetes, there are a few important steps you can take to prevent worsening of your kidney function.
Even small improvements can lower your risk of progressive kidney disease. These steps include:
- Achieve good blood pressure control. The target may vary from person to person, but generally is less than 140/90. Taking an ace inhibitor of angiotensin receptor blocking medication can help lower blood pressure and has specific effects on the kidney that protect the kidney from damage caused by diabetes.
- Stop smoking if you smoke. It increases risk for renal function deterioration, including diabetic nephropathy.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Getting to and maintaining normal body weight (body mass index < 25) can help with lowering blood pressure and reducing your need for diabetic medications. It also helps with preventing kidney disease.
- Control your diabetes with a goal hemoglobin A1C < 7 percent with diet and medications.
- Control you cholesterol with diet and medications if necessary.
- Limit your dietary sodium intake to less that 2000 mg per day. This helps to lower your blood pressure and helps your medication to work more effectively.
- Follow up with your nephrologist (kidney specialist) routinely to make sure you are doing everything you can to prevent kidney disease from worsening.
This Scripps Health and Wellness tip was provided by Caitlin Carter, MD, a nephrologist at Scripps Clinic in San Diego.