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Written by DaVita dietitian Amy Braglia, MS, RD
Maybe it’s time you give your heart some TLC — therapeutic lifestyle changes. What are therapeutic lifestyle changes? These are behaviors that can help reduce the risk of heart disease. For people with chronic kidney disease, a little TLC can make a big difference in how you feel and your quality of life.
Therapeutic lifestyle changes may include exercise, dietary changes, quitting smoking, weight loss or a combination of any of these. TLC may be recommended by your doctor to control cholesterol levels and blood pressure, with or without the use of medicines. High blood pressure contributes to cardiovascular disease, including left ventricular hypertrophy, aneurysm formation and atherosclerosis. Controlling blood pressure is also important for people with chronic kidney disease because high blood pressure may damage kidneys. One goal for people with chronic kidney disease is to prolong kidney function so it doesn’t progress to end stage renal disease. TLC can help.
Your doctor may suggest working with a dietitian or renal dietitian, who specializes in planning diets for people with kidney disease, to learn about healthy eating habits and exercise. A dietitian can help you to develop a plan to lose weight if needed. Additionally, a renal dietitian will recommend a kidney-friendly eating plan.
According to one study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), poor diet and physical inactivity accounted for approximately 300,000 deaths in the year 2000. Changes in health behaviors may have benefits that medicines do not. Studies have also shown that a healthy diet and exercise can reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and cancer.
There are several dietary changes that may help to keep your heart and kidneys healthy:
Absolutely! Generally, thirty minutes to one hour of exercise most days of the week is recommended for therapeutic lifestyle changes. Exercise can take many forms, including walking, biking and even yard work or housework. For exercise to be most effective, it should be at least moderately difficult. Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise program. It may also be beneficial to talk to an exercise expert, such as an exercise physiologist, physical therapist or certified personal trainer.
TLC for your heart may also help your kidneys and your whole body. Talk to your doctor and dietitian to find out if you need therapeutic lifestyle changes to improve your health. A little TLC may lead to a much longer and happier life!
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