Many people believe that the heart is solely responsible for the regulation of blood pressure. However, the body is an intricate collection of systems continually working together to keep your body running appropriately. The kidneys, two small bean-shaped organs, are of vital importance in regards to blood pressure stabilization. However, many people are entirely unaware of their influence beyond their principal role of filtering electrolytes and creating urine.
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As stated previously, the kidneys are tasked with the role of creating urine, but they also aid in blood pressure control and electrolyte stability. They help your body maintain the proper balance of electrolytes by filtering out the unneeded components through the urine and recycling the needed components back into the bloodstream. When there is excess sodium or salt in the body, there will be excess water because salt holds onto water. The water will be pulled into the bloodstream, which will increase the blood volume that the heart must pump thus increasing blood pressure.
Another way that the kidneys help control blood pressure is through hormones. Blood pressure is regulated by the kidneys through the activation of a hormone-based system called renin-angiotensin system or RAS. When there is a reduction of blood flow through the arteries supplying the kidneys, the hormone renin is created and released by the kidneys into the bloodstream. Renin assists in the conversion of angiotensin into angiotensin I. In the lungs, this compound is then converted into angiotensin II through a molecule called angiotensin-converting enzyme or ACE. Angiotensin II binds to blood vessels causing the constriction of the vessels leading to an increase in blood pressure. The increased blood pressure, in turn, will increase the blood flow to the kidneys. However, if the arteries supplying the kidneys are narrowed due to untreated hypertension, they will think that their blood supply is limited. If the kidneys believe the blood supply is limited, it will initiate RAS, which will only continue to increase the blood pressure unnecessarily.
So, why is it important to control your blood pressure other than the fact it can contribute to life-threatening conditions, such as heart attack and stroke?
• It is of critical importance because the kidneys will help to lower blood volume by releasing excess water, which helps lower blood pressure.
• Also, the kidneys control the activation of the RAS, which when operating appropriately can help regulate blood pressure.
• However, when the kidneys are affected by untreated hypertension, the RAS can quickly alter from a system that aids blood pressure to a system that negatively increases already elevated blood pressure.
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