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What do kidneys do?

November 12, 1999

Kidneys do a lot more than we think:

* The body's entire blood supply circulates through the kidneys every two minutes and is continuously cleaned. Every day the kidneys filter about 200 quarts of fluid.

* The kidneys release a hormone that promotes the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. Without enough of this hormone, you may be anemic.

cont. from lifestyle

* These fist-sized organs affect bone formation by regulating calcium and phosphorous concentrations in the blood and producing an active form of vitamin D, which aids in absorbing calcium from food.

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* The kidneys and blood pressure are closely related: Prolonged high blood pressure can lead to kidney failure as well as heart disease or stroke. But the kidneys also play a role in controlling blood pressure. They monitor concentrations of sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, chloride and bicarbonate and body fluid levels, removing excess amounts of salts and fluids in the urine. If kidneys fail to do this, blood pressure may rise.

* These organs, which weigh about one-third of a pound each, also secrete renin, a substance that stimulates the production of a hormone that causes an elevation in blood pressure. Too much renin can lead to high blood pressure.

- American Kidney Fund, National Kidney Foundation of Maryland Inc.; Dr. Eli Roza, a Hagerstown nephrologist - a physician who specializes in diseases of the kidney

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