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Times of India
10 March 2011
By Revathi Ramanan

If you thought the kidney and the heart, by virtue of being two different organs of the body, are not related to each other, you could be mistaken. The two are part of the cardiovascular system, which means that if one malfunctions, the other gets affected. Doctors point out that a large percentage of people suffering from chronic kidney diseases also suffer from heart diseases. What’s more, kidney diseases multiply the risk of heart diseases, they say.

Kidney disease does not show any symptoms till it is at an advanced stage and the kidney has been irreversibly damaged, says consultant urologist at Sri Ramachandra Medical College, Dr Sunil Shroff. "The body is an integrated system and the organs are interdependent. Kidney damage could harm the heart," he said.

People with kidney diseases are three times more likely to develop heart attacks than those without kidney diseases, doctors say. "Like cholestrol, high blood pressure and diabetes, kidney disease too has been identified as a risk factor for heart disease," said Dr Rajan Ravichandran, director, MIOT Institute of Nephrology.

That explains the theme for this year’s World Kidney Day: ‘Protect your kidneys; save your heart.’ "There needs to be more awareness on how kidney problems represent the leading cause of cardiac disorders due to calcification," said Dr Ravichandran. Calcification is a process by which calcium gets deposited in the blood vessels of a person suffering from chronic kidney disease.

For a person suffering from long-standing kidney disease, the arteries could get coated with calcium. "Such a patient’s angiogram could be normal, but he could suffer a heart attack. This is risky," said Dr Rajan. The kidney has the largest surface area of blood vessels running over it, and if capillaries and blood vessels are diseased they could affect the cardiovascular system. "Calcification could cause atherosclerosis, which results in calcium deposits on the walls of the arteries. This could be fatal," said Dr VV Bashi, chairman and chief surgeon, Centre for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Care, MIOT Hospitals.

One of the main functions of the kidney is regulation of blood pressure by removing sodium and producing hormones. When the kidney fails, these functions get affected, leading to increased blood pressure and high risk of heart disease.
With unhealthy habits creeping into modern lifestyle, more young people are now at risk of developing kidney diseases, leading to heart disease, say doctors.

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