World Kidney Day: ‘Kidney disease has become the 8th leading cause of death in women’

‘Include, value, empower.’ This year the slogan for World Kidney Day highlights the importance of women’s kidney health and the need to create awareness amongst women as well as to give them equal access to healthcare all over the country. Let’s focus on some of the special problems faced by women vis-a-vis kidney health

World Kidney Day: ‘Kidney disease has become the 8th leading cause of death in women’
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  • 5 lakh women suffer from Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) worldwide and 600000 women die every year of CKD. Kidney disease has become the 8th leading cause of death in women.
  • Although, women are somewhat more prone to develop CKD (14% prevalence in woman compared to 12% in men.)
  • Woman with chronic kidney disease will have not only difficulty in conceiving but with limitations of use of drugs during pregnancy, a woman may sometimes be advised against conception leading to a huge emotional and social trauma in her life.

According to Dr Umesh Khanna, nephrologist and chairman of Mumbai kidney foundation; one in three women will develop Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) during her lifetime due to different anatomy and physiology of a women’s body.

Honeymoon cystitis in young women due to first initiation to cohabitation is fairly common but easily treatable. Pregnancy is another period in a women’s life which needs special attention as UTI is not only common, but if it ascends to the kidney called Pyelonephritis then, it can be life-threatening.  But it is the advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) issues of women which need to be highlighted on World Kidney Day (WKD).

As per Dr Arun Shah from Lilavati hospital, prompt and effective treatment is the key to managing UTI in pregnancy and that too without X-ray and CT scans and with restricted use of only pregnancy safe drugs. After she achieves menopause, she loses the protective estrogen hormone and this leads to vaginal dryness and makes them more prone to Urinary Tract Infection.

Dr Alan Almeida from Hinduja Hospital said, “Pregnancy makes women more prone to hypertension in pregnancy or preeclampsia, a unique variety of   disease with its own set of problems, including the dangerous eclampsia, of pregnancy requiring emergency termination of pregnancy. Also women having blood pressure during pregnancy are more prone to develop not only higher chance of developing kidney disease, in future, but also life-threatening acute kidney failure which is specific to pregnancy and  more common in developing countries like India. Proper antenatal care during pregnancy is a must and it can reduce its dangerous complications.”

Dr BV Gandhi said, “Contraceptives given to women to avoid pregnancy in CKD may cause high BP or water retention. Hence, a male contraceptive is preferred.”

Dr Bhavesh Vora from Asian Heart Hospital underlined that women are more prone to certain autoimmune diseases such as Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) which can present with fever, joint pains, skin rash, blood pressure and kidney damage. It can be treated, but requires a lifelong follow up with a nephrologist.

According to Dr Umesh Khanna, apart from the usual diabetes incidence of 7 to 10% in India, women also have a special problem of gestational diabetes which makes them more prone to full blown diabetes later with all its hazards.

Similarly gestational BP with all its hazards is a peculiar problem in women and it can lead to future kidney disease says Dr Arun Shah.

Although women are somewhat more prone to develop CKD (14% prevalence in woman compared to 12% in men). Dr Hemal Shah of Saifee hospital feels that fewer women get treatment when compared to men, especially in India, due to gender bias and reduced access to medical care. Lesser women are on dialysis and still lesser get transplanted, if at all they get transplanted. More women donate a kidney to their loved ones but are less likely to receive them when they need it.

Hence, Amar Gandhi foundation would appeal to all women to cut down salt, oil and sugar by 30%.