On Thursday 8 March, the Health Services Authority (HSA) celebrated World Kidney Day (WKD), the most widely celebrated event focused on kidney health across the globe. This year’s theme “Kidneys & Women’s Health – Include, Value, Empower” underlined that the risk of developing Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) may be higher in women than in men and that kidney disease is also linked to pregnancy.
World Kidney Day and International Women’s Day was marked on the same day, offering the opportunity to highlight the importance of women’s health and particularly their kidney health.
The latest numbers show that Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) affects approximately 195 million women worldwide and it is currently the 8th leading cause of death in women, causing 600,000 female deaths each year. CKD is more likely to develop in women compared to men, with an average 14 per cent prevalence in women and 12 per cent in men. Women are also more often affected by certain kinds of kidney diseases such as lupus nephritis (a kidney disease caused by an autoimmune disease) and pyelonephritis (kidney infection).
Women who have CKD during pregnancy are at increased risk of negative outcomes that can affect their babies; pregnancies in women with advanced CKD are most challenging. Additionally, pregnancy-related complications increase the risk of kidney disease – women who had preeclampsia are at 4-to-5 times increased risk of developing end-stage kidney disease.
It is therefore crucial that we encourage and facilitate higher awareness, timely diagnosis and proper follow up of CKD in pregnancy. In turn, pregnancy may be also a valuable occasion for early diagnosis of CKD, allowing planning of therapeutic interventions.
On World Kidney Day the HSA held free health screenings which included weight, height, total cholesterol, glucose levels, HbA1C (for those with high glucose levels) and blood pressure checks. These checks are key indicators of persons who are at risk of Chronic Kidney Disease. Nurse Erlin McLeod, HSA Dialysis Unit Nurse Manager, noted the impact the event had on members of the community, women in particular. “I am pleased to announce that we screened a total of 100 patients with 28 patients seen by our onsite physician Dr. Imilla Sedano and 26 patients seen by our onsite dietician Simone Sheehan. Among these patients, 43 were women. We want to encourage women in particular to take the time out to learn more about their kidneys and to take advantage of screening opportunities. Education of women protects both their health and their children’s health. Kidney disease can be treated. The earlier you know you have it, the better your chances of receiving effective treatment.”