Iconic singer and performer Tina Turner passed away Wednesday after a long battle with chronic illnesses. She was 83, and in one of her final Instagram posts, two months before her death, wrote about how she regretted not taking care of her kidneys.
“My kidneys are victims of my not realizing that my high blood pressure should have been treated with conventional medicine,” she wrote. “I have put myself in great danger by refusing to face the reality that I need daily, lifelong therapy with medication. For too long I believed that my body was an untouchable and indestructible bastion.”
According to Insider, the cause of Turner’s death was not shared publicly, but the eight-time Grammy award winning singer experienced a number of health issues in recent years, including intestinal cancer, a stroke and kidney failure.
Symptoms of kidney disease can include a lack of energy or problems concentrating, difficulty sleeping, dry or itchy skin, frequent urination, and blood in the urine, swelling and puffiness and a lack of appetite. The “What’s Love Got to With It” singer announced on her March 9 Instagram post that she was supporting an international campaign for kidney health. That date coincided with National Kidney Day and Turner urged readers to visit the website Show Your Kidneys Love where her personal story and expert advice on keeping your kidneys healthy are featured.
“I have been suffering from hypertension for a long time, got diagnosed in 1978, but didn’t care much about it,” she wrote. Finally, in 1985, she agreed to take medication and then suffered a stroke in 2009 because her high blood pressure was poorly controlled. She then discovered that her kidneys had already lost 35% of their function. Turner eventually had to start dialysis and subsequently, in 2017, her second husband, Erwin Bach, donated one of his kidneys to the singer. Her body tried to reject the transplant and she suffered more hospital admissions.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, high blood pressure can constrict and narrow the blood vessels, which eventually damages and weakens them throughout the body, including in the kidneys. This narrowing reduces blood flow, and the damaged kidneys are not able to remove all waste and extra fluid from your body. Extra fluid in the blood vessels can raise your blood pressure even more, creating a dangerous cycle, potentially leading to kidney failure.
Almost half of U.S. adults, or about 108 million people, have high blood pressure and more than one in seven, or about 37 million people, may have chronic kidney disease. High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure in the United States after diabetes.
Dr. Raymond Vanholder, president of the European Kidney Health Alliance, notes that the number of kidney diseases worldwide is rising and calls for consistent screening in all countries and more investment in primary prevention as this is the only way to counteract the increase. He advises regular blood pressure checkups, a ban on smoking including e-cigarettes, and minimizing salt intake.
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