Healthy Living

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Affect the Kidneys

Protecting your kidneys when living with RA

If you do suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, you can protect your kidneys in a number of different ways.

  • Make sure your RA is well controlled. The more control you can have over your inflammation, the more protected your kidneys will be.
  • Speak openly with your physician about all your medications. If you know that you have an existing kidney issue, your doctor may recommend lowered dosages of specific medications.
  • Stay proactive with kidney function testing. “It’s important to know whether your kidney function is close to normal,” says Dr. Miller. The frequency of blood and urine tests will depend on which medications you take and other health conditions you may have.
  • Take control of your blood pressure and cholesterol. People with higher blood pressure and higher cholesterol levels are more likely to develop kidney disease.
  • Stay hydrated. “Hydration is actually really important to good kidney function,” says Dr. Matteson. “A lot of people just don’t drink enough.”
  • Monitor your salt intake. Consuming an excess of salt may contribute to high blood pressure, which also contributes to kidney issues.

More research is planned to understand contributors to kidney disease in rheumatoid arthritis and how to intervene to reduce the risk, Dr. Matteson says.