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LETTER: Kidneys and women’s health

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is known to affect approximately 923 women in Nova Scotia and 195 million worldwide.

CKD is more likely to develop in women compared to men. However, the progression of the disease is slower in women, so the number of women on dialysis is lower than the number of men.

Some conditions that affect the kidneys, such as lupus nephropathy or kidney infections, are more common in women. The risk of urinary track and kidney infections also increases during pregnancy.

Infection of the placenta, post-partum hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia, all complications of pregnancy, are leading causes of acute kidney injury in young women. In addition, pre-eclampsia, which causes high blood pressure, fluid retention and protein in the urine can cause acute kidney damage and may lead to an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

Identification of kidney disease before or during pregnancy allows for medical management and follow-up to delay further progression of the disease.

Be proactive by being aware of the conditions that increase your risk of kidney disease, and talk to your health care provider about how you can lower your risk. If you have been diagnosed with kidney disease, make sure you have regular follow-up.

Prevention, diagnosis and timely treatment of kidney disease in women will lead to improved health outcomes.

Susan MacNeil,

Manager, Planning, Standards and Special Projects, Nova Scotia Health Authority Renal Program

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