Health knowledge is empowering


To the Editor:

One in 10 Canadians has kidney disease. Are you, or is someone you know affected? Many people who have kidney disease do not even know they have it.

March 8 was World Kidney Day. The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Atlantic Branch is encouraging Atlantic Canadians to learn more about their kidneys and speak to their doctor about being tested for kidney disease.

This year, World Kidney Day and International Women’s Day were marked on the same day. The theme of this year’s World Kidney Day was “Kidneys and Women’s Health – Include, Value, Empower.” This allowed us to offer the opportunity to highlight the importance of women’s health and particularly their kidney health.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) affects approximately 195 million women worldwide and it is currently the eighth leading cause of death in women, causing 600,000 female deaths each year.

The risk of developing CKD is at least as high in women as in men, and may even be higher. Women are 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). Kidney disease is also linked to pregnancy: women who have CKD are at increased risk for negative outcomes in pregnancy, both for the mother and the baby; in turn, pregnancy-related complications can increase the risk of kidney disease.

Meet Penny Hughes, a local volunteer, and honorary chair for one of our local Kidney Walks here in Nova Scotia.

“My name is Penny Hughes. I was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy in 2005. At the time, my husband, two children and I were living on Vancouver Island. Our son was two and half years old and our daughter was about to turn one. I couldn’t believe what the doctor had just told me. I had heard so little about kidney disease in my almost 30 years. In the year and a half leading up to this appointment with the specialist after my biopsy, I hadn’t felt any different, still didn’t. It was a very surreal day. How could something that I couldn’t feel cause so much damage?

“After almost 14 years of living with this disease, I am happy to say I still have normal kidney function. I am on a second type of medication and I have my kidneys tested only once a year now, down from four times a year, in the early days. As soon as the tests indicated that I was on the right medication, testing was reduced.

“My story is one of hope. Early detection is the key. IgA Nephropathy is just one of many diseases that affect the kidneys but one that does not have to end in kidney failure. Dialysis and transplants don’t have to be the treatment. With early detection and proper medication, you can live a full and happy life and extend the healthy life of your kidneys.”

To find out if you have any of the risk factors for kidney disease, take this short quiz: www.kidney.ca/risk

We are currently looking for Pictou County volunteers to help with planning the upcoming Kidney Walk in Pictou County. For information on how you can get involved with The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Atlantic Branch, or to take part in our upcoming Kidney Walk please contact: Keri MacIvor, Development Coordinator at keri.macivor@kidney.ca or 902.404.8099. Visit online at www.kidney.ca/atlantic

Additional stats:

• Total number of kidney patients in Atlantic Canada that are presently being worked up to receive a transplant — 132

• 16 people in Nova Scotia donated their kidney (15 cadaveric, 1 live)

Canadian Statistics

• Nearly 77 per cent of the 4,500 Canadians on the waiting list for an organ transplant are waiting for a kidney

• The number of people living with kidney disease has grown 36 per cent in 10 years

• Treatment for those with end-stage kidney disease:

— 58.4 per cent are on dialysis

— 41.6 per cent have a functioning transplant

• Of those patients on dialysis, more than three quarters were receiving institutional hemodialysis, the most expensive treatment option.

• A person can lose more than 50 per cent of their kidney foundation before symptoms appear. Symptoms are silent in the early stages

• Nearly 27 per cent of patients in Canada (excluding Quebec) are late-referral, which means they started dialysis only 90 days after first seeing a nephrologist.

Source: www.worldkidneyday.org

Keri MacIvor

Development Coordinator

Atlantic Canada Branch