The Connection Between Heart Disease And Kidney Disease (And Your Rights As A Patient)

Doctors and researchers have long understood that there is a strong link between kidney disease and heart disease.

In fact, the American Heart Association tells us that in an average year, kidney disease is a factor in over a million cardiovascular deaths in the United States, while high blood pressure, a common cardiovascular condition, is the number two reason for kidney failure.

Keep reading for a closer look at the heart disease-kidney disease connection and some advice about your options if you’re not receiving proper treatment for either (or both) of these conditions and how a medical malpractice lawyer can help.

HOW ARE THE HEART AND KIDNEYS LINKED?

The heart and kidneys complement and enhance one another. Here’s a brief introduction.

The kidneys are set just under the ribs on each side of your spine. Properly functioning kidneys remove waste products and excess fluid. The kidneys help to regulate blood pressure.

Additionally, the kidneys manufacture red blood cells, keep the bones healthy, and balance the levels of minerals, nutrients, and other important elements in the bloodstream.

The heart pumps the blood that carries oxygen to all parts of the body. The kidneys keep the blood “clean” with their work to remove wastes and excess fluids. Healthy kidneys are essential to our overall health.

Damaged kidneys, however, make us susceptible to heart disease. When waste and excess fluids build up and are not promptly and properly removed, it can raise the blood pressure, and that puts stress on the heart that can lead to a stroke or to heart disease.

HOW DOES HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE DAMAGE THE KIDNEYS?

High blood pressure can stretch and even scar blood vessels throughout the body, weakening the blood vessels in the kidneys and other organs. High blood pressure can also harden – and impair – the arteries connected to the kidneys.

Since high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease are both difficult to detect in the early stages, regular medical check-ups are imperative. However, as chronic kidney disease progresses, its symptoms begin to appear.

Those symptoms may include edema (swelling linked to the kidneys’ inability to remove excess fluids and salt), loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, and a more (or in some cases less) frequent need to urinate.

WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO PREVENT HEART AND KIDNEY DISEASE?

Some of the suggestions for preventing high blood pressure serve also to reduce the risk of kidney disease. Of course, a healthy diet accompanied by regular and reasonable exercise is the best way to prevent all kinds of diseases and health problems.

Beverages and food items with added salt and sugar should be replaced with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Fish with omega-3 fatty acids – salmon, for example – are strongly recommended.

It’s also important to stop smoking if you still smoke, to drink alcohol only occasionally and moderately, and to take steps to reduce your stress level if stress is an issue in your life.

Proper exercise reduces stress and is a key to overall good health. Exercise has particular benefits for the kidneys and the heart. For most people, just walking – about two to three hours a week – can provide substantial health benefits.

However, everyone’s condition and metabolism are different, so it’s important to discuss any new diet or exercise plan with your primary healthcare provider, your cardiologist, and/or your nephrologist (kidney specialist).

IS THERE A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CRISIS?

As you seek treatment for a heart condition or chronic kidney disease, you also must be aware of another threat to your health – medical malpractice.

Innocent people who are seeking medical treatment are injured every day in the U.S. by the negligence of healthcare providers. Consumer Reports informs us – disturbingly – that over 400,000 deaths every year are linked to medical mistakes in U.S. hospitals.

But hospital errors are only the tip of what some are calling a malpractice crisis.

WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON TYPE OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?

Recent research published by the National Academy of Sciences tells us that every year in this nation, approximately twelve million adults have a medical condition misdiagnosed.

Misdiagnosis, and prescribing the wrong medicine or treatment based on that misdiagnosis, is the most common way that a heart disease or kidney disease patient will be harmed by medical negligence.

If someone’s medical condition deteriorates because a misdiagnosis or a hospital error delayed the appropriate medical treatment, that person is a victim of medical malpractice with a legal right to compensation.

IF YOU ARE A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE VICTIM, WHERE CAN YOU TURN?

If you have been victimized by medical malpractice while seeking treatment for a heart or kidney condition, you should reach out at once to discuss your legal rights and options with a medical malpractice attorney.

When a doctor misdiagnoses a patient or makes an error in a patient’s treatment, the results are sometimes catastrophic.

Of course, there is never a reason for any healthcare provider or facility to put a patient in harm’s way with an inadequate or negligent diagnosis, treatment, or care.

WHAT CONSTITUTES MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?

Nobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes, but usually, our mistakes do not injure others. Likewise, not every error that a healthcare provider makes necessarily constitutes negligence or medical malpractice.

Every case is unique. That’s why you will need to have an experienced medical malpractice attorney review the particulars of your case to determine the best way for you to move forward. In some cases, your attorney will recommend filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

A medical malpractice lawsuit is typically the appropriate move if a physician, a nurse, a technician, or any healthcare provider injures a patient by negligently performing or failing to perform a job-related task.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO WIN A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAWSUIT?

To prevail with a medical malpractice lawsuit, the injury victim and that victim’s attorney must show that:

1. A healthcare provider violated the professional and legal duty of care to the patient.
2. The breach of duty resulted in a personal injury or injuries to the patient.
3. The patient is entitled to a specific damage amount as compensation.

If it’s needed, your medical malpractice lawyer will seek the help of medical authorities and financial experts to assess your costs and losses and to calculate the amount of compensation that you need and deserve as a victim of medical malpractice.

HOW SERIOUS IS THE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE PROBLEM?

Heart disease can kill. So can kidney disease. And so can medical malpractice. In 2016, researchers at Johns Hopkins University determined that medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Too many heart disease and kidney disease patients are – or will become – medical malpractice victims.

WHEN DO YOU NEED TO TAKE ACTION?

If you or someone you love has been misdiagnosed or harmed in any other way while seeking heart disease treatment or kidney disease treatment, speak right away with a qualified medical malpractice lawyer to learn more about your options.

If you’re a victim of medical malpractice, you have the right to take legal action, and you are entitled by law to compensation. However, every state places a limit – a statute of limitations – on the amount of time you have to act after an incident of medical malpractice.

That’s why, if you believe that you are a medical malpractice victim, you need to get legal advice – and make the call to a malpractice attorney – right now.

By: Jed Kurzban

Medical malpractice attorney Jed Kurzban graduated from the University of Alabama in 1992 and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law in 1995. He is a member of the Dade County Bar Association, the Florida Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, and the American Bar Association. Mr. Kurzban is happily married and the father of two.