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Five Facts About Women and Chronic Kidney Disease

In the United States, 37 million adults – about 15 percent of the population – have chronic kidney disease (CKD). As is the case with many other chronic health conditions, women are disproportionally affected by CKD. While there has not been enough research to definitively answer why this discrepancy exists, it is likely due to biological predeterminants, psycho-socioeconomic factors or a combination of both.

Following are five facts everyone should know about CKD in women.

  1. More than 50 percent of people living with lupus, an autoimmune disease, also have kidney problems. Lupus is a disease more common among women than men.

  2. Women of color are between 1.2 and 3 times more likely to be affected by kidney disease as compared to their white, non-Hispanic counterparts.

  3. It is more difficult for women living with chronic kidney disease to become pregnant. This can be traced back to a change in hormone levels and an increased rate of anemia. Pregnancy adds to the challenges and complications of kidney disease, typically proportionate to the stage of CKD.

  4. Women are more often the caregivers of those with kidney disease and kidney failure, which has a direct impact on their long-term career trajectory and earnings, as well as their physical and mental health.

  5. Year after year, women are more likely to become living kidney donors than men. At the same time, women are less likely to be the recipient of a kidney from either a living or deceased donor. In 2017, 63 percent of living kidney donors were women, while only 39 percent of kidney transplants went to women. In addition, 43 percent of dialysis patients are women, while they only make up 39 percent of those on the waiting list for a kidney.

While this information is an important start in understanding the difference in prevalence and treatment of CKD in women, it is just that: the start. Far more research is needed to understand the interplay of factors affecting women with CKD. It is also equally important that we use that information to effect positive change in both the treatment and outcomes for people living with this disease.


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