Kidney is one of the vital organs in the human body and its ability to maintain water balance is crucial to our overall well-being. It not only controls the water balance but also produces highly concentrated urine to get rid of waste using as little water as possible when the body is dehydrated. People who suffer from kidney diseases, the older population, and those on blood pressure medication often tend to have issues with water balance. In a study, researchers found that those taking a combination of certain drugs and elderly people who have an impaired kidney function need to take extra care of their water intake.
While there is no denying the fact that water consumption is essential for optimum body functioning, researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada have developed a "computer kidney" that can help shed light on impacts of medicines taken by those who don't drink enough water.
"People who have high blood pressure are typically given a water pill, so they pee a lot to lower their blood volume and in doing so, lower their blood pressure," said Anita Layton, professor of Applied Mathematics, Pharmacy and Biology at Waterloo. Other than this, they are also frequently given another drug that targets a hormonal system, which will affect the kidney as well.
"A lot of people are on these two drugs, and they will be fine. But one day they might have a headache and take an aspirin, and the three of these drugs together can hurt your kidneys," Layton added in a paper published in the the American Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology.
Layton built the first computational model that simulates the muscle contractions that move urine from the kidney to the bladder. It found that taking the two blood pressure drugs and an aspirin concurrently could cause acute kidney injury, unless a patient is properly hydrated.
"Incredibly, how mammals produce a highly concentrated urine is not well understood," Layton said. "We're now a step closer to understanding how water balance is maintained in mammals."