Kidneys: Lean, Mean, Blood-Cleaning Machines

Did you know? A woman is more likely to donate a kidney than receive one.

On March 8, we celebrate women and their contributions to the world through International Women’s Day. This day is also an opportunity to reflect on key health issues that affect women globally.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects approximately 195 million women worldwide and is currently the eighth leading cause of death in women, with 600,000 deaths each year. This year, World Kidney Day will also be celebrated on March 8, with the aim of increasing awareness and education about kidney disease in women and girls around the world.

Your kidneys may only be the size of your fists, but they are a lean, mean, blood-cleaning machine. In addition to removing toxins and excess water from our blood, the kidneys also control blood pressure, produce red blood cells, keep our bones healthy, control the body’s chemical balance and make urine.

Though early CKD often has no signs or symptoms, you can lose up to 90 percent of kidney function without even knowing. While it cannot be reversed, CKD can be slowed and even stopped with proper diet and medication.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can help prevent CKD by:

  • Staying active
     
  • Staying within your target blood sugar and cholesterol ranges
     
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables
     
  • Monitoring and controlling your blood pressure; consult with your provider about medications and other ways to lower your blood pressure if it’s high

Don’t hesitate to talk to your PCP about your individual risk factors, and whether or not you should be screened. You and your health are important.

Source: Chronic Kidney Disease, Gender, and Access to Care: A Global Perspective: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28532558