If nephrosclerosis is present, the kidney of an affected person is affected. Early therapy steps usually increase the success of the treatment.
What is nephrosclerosis?
Nephrosclerosis is a kidney disease that is also known as vascular or hypertensive nephropathy. Very often, nephrosclerosis is accompanied by increased blood pressure in those affected. See phonecations for All You Need to Know About Skin Infection.
A distinction can be made between so-called benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (malignant) nephrosclerosis. The benign form of nephrosclerosis is characterized, among other things, by the formation of hardening of the arterioles (the smallest arteries of the kidney). The benign form of nephrosclerosis often causes no symptoms in those affected; if symptoms occur, they show themselves, for example, in headaches, restlessness and/or loss of appetite.
While kidney function is usually not affected by benign nephrosclerosis, affected patients are often more susceptible to inflammation of the renal pelvis.
In the context of malignant nephrosclerosis, changes in kidney tissue and vessel walls occur in most cases. Possible symptoms of the advanced disease are, for example, blurred vision or states of confusion.
Benign nephrosclerosis often follows from arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) that is present in the affected person and is associated with high blood pressure.
The malignant form of nephrosclerosis can be caused, for example, by very high blood pressure. Various kidney diseases and the use of contraceptive medication can also promote malignant nephrosclerosis. The role of various viral diseases as triggers of malignant nephrosclerosis has not been conclusively clarified.
The occurrence of nephrosclerosis can also be favored by various risk factors. These risk factors include, for example, excessive nicotine consumption, cases of nephrosclerosis that occur frequently in families, existing disorders of lipid metabolism and/or restricted kidney functions.
Comparatively often, nephrosclerosis occurs in older people, male sex or black skin color.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Nephrosclerosis always occurs together with high blood pressure, since high blood pressure is the sole cause of the sclerotic changes in kidney tissue. Usually there are no symptoms at the beginning of the disease, since both the high blood pressure and the nephrosclerosis can initially be asymptomatic. Often, however, unspecific symptoms of hypertension such as visual disturbances, dizziness or even tightness in the chest are noticed.
Depending on the high blood pressure, two different forms of nephrosclerosis can develop. There is a benign (non-cancerous) and a malignant (malignant) form of this disease. In benign nephrosclerosis, no symptoms are usually observed. Only blood tests can detect an increased excretion of proteins.
If left untreated, renal insufficiency can develop over a long period of time, which becomes noticeable through a decrease in urine production, the formation of pulmonary edema, cardiac arrhythmia and muscle weakness. However, before this condition occurs, the disease processes in benign nephrosclerosis can be stopped and even reversed. Although the symptoms of malignant nephrosclerosis are similar, it is a sudden onset and rapidly progressive disease process.
In the case of acute kidney failure, this can be fatal. In addition, nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, confusional states, lethargy, coma and convulsions also occur here, which can often lead to heart failure. Blood pressure rises sharply. It is often no longer possible to cure kidney failure at this stage of the disease.
Diagnosis & History
The diagnosis of an existing nephrosclerosis usually begins with a detailed discussion with the patient. As part of this conversation, a doctor treating you will ask about the duration and severity of existing symptoms, for example.
Information about the medical history of a patient is also usually requested. Information gained from the conversation can subsequently be supplemented, for example, by examining the blood and urine of an affected person; for example, the suspicion of nephrosclerosis can be strengthened by an increased protein concentration in the urine. Malignant nephrosclerosis can usually only be confirmed with a biopsy (a removal of kidney tissue).
Benign nephrosclerosis usually progresses slowly. Occasionally, kidney failure can occur in the advanced course. Malignant nephrosclerosis can damage the heart and brain due to high blood pressure. Severe disease progression can result in coma and/or heart failure.
In most cases, those affected suffer from kidney problems due to nephrosclerosis. However, these have a very negative effect on the overall health of the patient, leading to inner restlessness and high blood pressure. Those affected are often confused and suffer from headaches and bleeding. Nephrosclerosis can also lead to blurred vision, so that patients see blurred.
Coordination disorders and concentration disorders also occur, which have a very negative effect on the patient’s quality of life. Those affected are just as listless and exhausted and no longer actively participate in life. Nephrosclerosis also leads to vomiting and permanent nausea in the patient. Nephrosclerosis is treated by kidney transplantation or dialysis.
In most cases, however, the damaged kidney must be removed before the kidney fails completely. However, if the treatment is successful, the life expectancy of the patient is not affected. A healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle can have a positive effect on nephrosclerosis and reduce the signs and symptoms.
When should you go to the doctor?
Symptoms such as loss of appetite, restlessness, stomach pains or headaches indicate nephrosclerosis or at least a serious condition that must be clarified by a doctor in any case. Anyone who notices these or other symptoms that cannot be attributed to a specific cause should consult their family doctor. A medical examination is necessary in any case, as otherwise serious complications such as chronic gastrointestinal complaints, blurred vision or internal bleeding can occur.
Individuals who use nicotine regularly or suffer from a fat disorder are particularly at risk. The same applies to patients who have recovered from a viral disease or have existing arteriosclerosis. Anyone who belongs to these risk groups must have the complaints clarified immediately. In addition to the general practitioner, an internist or a specialist in arterial diseases can be consulted. In the case of serious illnesses, a visit to a specialist center is necessary. The actual treatment usually takes place in a special clinic, whereby depending on the type and severity of the nephrosclerosis, other specialists can be involved in the treatment.
Treatment & Therapy
The medical treatment of nephrosclerosis usually focuses primarily on lowering blood pressure. Various medications are available for this purpose.
The doctor treating you will assess which antihypertensive drugs are suitable in individual cases, taking various factors into account; for example, other preparations can be useful for people affected by nephrosclerosis with an increased protein concentration in the urine than for patients whose urine shows a normal protein concentration.
The medical recommendations regarding the blood pressure values to be achieved in the context of the treatment of nephrosclerosis also vary depending on various factors; for example, the recommended blood pressure values for patients with impaired kidney function are below the recommended values for those affected with intact kidney function.
The earliest possible and professional therapy can often be life-saving, especially in patients with malignant nephrosclerosis. The background is that, if left untreated, malignant nephrosclerosis leads to kidney failure in most cases. If such kidney failure has occurred, treatment steps such as regular hemodialysis (blood work) or surgical removal of the diseased kidney may be necessary.
Outlook & Forecast
Nephrosclerosis is a consequence of chronic high blood pressure. Depending on whether the disease is benign or malignant, the prognosis can vary greatly. Benign nephrosclerosis can persist for many years. During this period, the kidney tissue is constantly damaged and new connective tissue is produced, which causes tissue hardening in the kidney. The consequences of this development are kidney pain, hormonal changes and a decrease in general well-being.
The malignant form of nephrosclerosis is accompanied by a sudden deterioration in kidney function. Blood pressure rises sharply and a hypertensive crisis occurs, which is potentially life-threatening. The first thing to do with both forms is to lower blood pressure, for which various drugs are used. The prescribed antihypertensive drugs can cause side effects and make the patient feel unwell.
The malignant form leads in many cases to the death of the patient. In the benign form, a long, relatively symptom-free life is possible. However, the quality of life is limited solely by possible side effects and interactions of the drug administration and by the progressive increase in symptoms.
The main way to prevent nephrosclerosis is to avoid or combat high blood pressure. It can be useful to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Avoiding risk factors such as heavy smoking can also help prevent nephrosclerosis. If nephrosclerosis has already occurred, regular visits to the doctor enable early therapy.
In most cases, the direct follow-up measures for nephrosclerosis are significantly limited and in some cases are not available to the person concerned. They should therefore consult a doctor at an early stage so that there are no further complications or symptoms. Self-healing cannot occur, so a doctor should be consulted at the first signs and symptoms.
During the treatment of nephrosclerosis, regular checks and examinations by a doctor are necessary in order to identify and prevent further symptoms at an early stage. Many of those affected are dependent on taking medication, whereby care must be taken to ensure the correct dosage. If anything is unclear, side effects or other questions, you should always consult a doctor first.
As a rule, the help of relatives and one’s own family is just as important in order to prevent depression and other mental upsets. The further course of the disease depends very much on the time of diagnosis of nephrosclerosis, so that no general course can be predicted. However, in many cases, the disease can reduce the life expectancy of those affected.
You can do that yourself
Nephrosclerosis patients can support treatment by avoiding activities that increase blood pressure. The diet should be changed accordingly. Spicy foods should be avoided. Likewise, coffee should only be drunk in limited quantities.
Nephrosclerosis symptoms can also be alleviated by doing moderate exercise. In order to avoid complications, sporting measures should first be clarified with the doctor. If available, a sphygmomanometer can be used to measure blood pressure at home. If a particularly high blood pressure is detected, the doctor must be informed. Elderly people and patients with other kidney diseases have a particularly poor chance of recovery. You should make the necessary lifestyle changes to optimally support the therapy. These include exercise and a balanced diet, avoiding alcohol and nicotine and avoiding stress.
Nephrosclerosis patients should speak to the responsible nephrologist in order to optimally adapt their life to the disease, which is usually associated with numerous limitations. If kidney failure occurs as a result of the disease, the emergency services must be called. The patient should lie down quietly and, if available, take the rescue medication.