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Gender differences in kidney affliction

Gender differences in kidney affliction

According to studies by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the average prevalence of CKD in women is 14% as opposed to 12% in men. Interestingly, researchers also found that men were likely to go on dialysis earlier in the course of their illness compared to women, for reasons that aren’t fully known.

Hospital Serdang Nephrology Department head and senior consultant nephrologist Prof Dr Goh Bak Leong, who is also the president of the Malaysian Society of Nephrology, says that there could be a variety of reasons for this, including uneven access to healthcare for women in some countries.

“While the reason is unclear why this illness affects men and women differently, it is something that has consistently been observed across the world, in both developed and developing countries,” he says.

Such gaps in treatment and care are part of what organisations like the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) hope to address as part of its ongoing mission.

Zaedah Jali, 57, has been undergoing dialysis treatments at NKF for the past 20 years now. Having been diagnosed with two failed kidneys at just 37, she was forced to turn to NKF after being rejected as a potential candidate for a kidney transplant.

The former factory worker now spends her days resting at home and thanking the Almighty for a fairly blissful life, as her children are all grown up and independent.

Melini Ismail’s story is slightly different. Having completed her professional ACCA in Britain, Malini landed a job in a German firm, and later, TV3, as an accountant. Then in 2012, a blood test revealed that her kidneys were not functioning the way they should.

By then she already knew she had diabetes and hypertension, but was unable to proceed with the dialysis due to her work commitments.

Despite being someone who loves to travel and enjoys food, Melini has been forced to cut back on these activities since being diagnosed with CKD and commencing dialysis treatments with NKF.

“I once had a scare when I indulged in some nasi dagang and was admitted to the hospital for two days! I have since started making more effort to cook and eat healthier foods,” she shares.

“The only issue I face is that when I travel I need to find areas that have dialysis centres and book my sessions in advance, and this can be cumbersome, especially overseas. So I have cut back on travelling tremendously, with the exception of travelling back to my hometown in Kota Bahru, which has an NKF branch,” she says.

Former assistant nurse Zaliha Sis, who has been undergoing dialysis since 1978, is grateful for the assistance provided by NKF in enabling her to enjoy a better quality of life since her diagnosis.

“I had the opportunity to receive a kidney from my mum in 1979, but after the surgery, my body rejected it. So I went back to dialysis and am not looking for another donor kidney,” she said, adding that her family and her husband’s family have always taken good care of her and supported her throughout her treatments.

Former factory worker Chuy Oi Lan, 63, was diagnosed with kidney failure in 1993 and has been undergoing dialysis treatment with NKF since 2012. She also receives funding from the Social Security Organisation (Socso) for her dialysis costs.

Aside from being an end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patient, Chuy is also a breast cancer survivor. “You should never give up hope no matter how hard life is, because your family and friends will always have your back,” she said.

Patients like 40-year-old Shela Devi continue to benefit from haemodialysis treatments at NKF, as her family is not well-off. Although she is registered as a recipient for a donor kidney, she has not yet received any good news.

With no transplant in sight, she is thankful to NKF for prolonging her health and life so that she can see all her children grow up and eventually have their own families.

“I am glad that I am receiving the best possible care from NKF, whose staff members treat all patients with professionalism and take the trouble to lend their ears for us to confide in. Many of our concerns have been eased, and I have also benefited from a friendly and family-like atmosphere at the centre,” she says.

These women are proof that while CKD is a debilitating disease and dialysis treatments are physically and financially draining, a decent quality of life is still possible with the right treatment.

According to Prof Goh, there are a number of steps that can be taken to prevent the advance or onset of kidney disease. These include consistent screening for kidney disease and adequately controlling blood pressure and blood sugar.

“Perhaps women need to take better care of themselves and be more proactive in seeking out treatments once they are diagnosed with the illness. I think oftentimes women may tend to delay their treatment due to commitments to the family and their role as a caregiver, or fear that their lifestyle could be affected as a result of the treatment,” he says.

“But this is far from the truth. If anything, the countless women who are being treated at NKF prove that it is possible to lead a good life and enjoy better quality of life once you seek the relevant treatment.”

It is possible to lead a good quality of life with kidney dialysis. Photo: Reuters

Risk factors for age-related kidney disease

Some conditions that affect the kidneys are more common as people get older. You are more at risk of developing kidney disease if you:

Are over 60 years of age
Have diabetes
Are obese
Have high blood pressure
Have established heart problems (heart failure or past heart attack) or have had a stroke
Are a smoker
Have a family history of kidney failure
Have a history of acute kidney injury

There are a number of things you can do to keep your kidneys healthy, including:

If you have diabetes, make sure that your blood sugar control is excellent. Follow your doctor’s advice about insulin injections, medicines, diet, physical activity and monitoring your blood sugar.

Control high blood pressure. Have your blood pressure checked regularly. Drugs used to lower blood pressure (anti-hypertensive drugs), such as ACE inhibitors or angiotensin blockers, can slow the development of kidney disease.

If you have one of the risk factors for kidney disease, have a kidney health check (blood test, urine test and blood pressure check) at least every year (more frequent if you have diabetes or high blood pressure).

Treat urinary tract infections immediately.

Control blood cholesterol levels with diet and medications if necessary.

Drink adequate water and choose foods that are low in sugar, fat and salt, but high in fibre. Stick to moderate serving sizes.

Do not smoke.

Drink alcohol in moderation.

Stay at a healthy weight for your height and age.

Try to exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes a day.


This article is by NKF. For more information or to donate, visit www.nkf.org.my or call 03-79549048.
Bill Cosby’s daughter Ensa has died at age 44 from renal disease — here’s what it is

Bill Cosby’s daughter Ensa has died at age 44 from renal disease — here’s what it is

  • Bill Cosby’s daughter Ensa, who came to his defense during his trial, has died at age 44.
  • Although details on her death have not yet been made public, a spokesperson said she died from renal disease, also known as chronic kidney disease.
  • Ensa also made an appearance on “The Cosby Show” in 1989.

Ensa Cosby, Bill Cosby’s daughter, has died at age 44 from renal disease, Reuters reported on Monday.

Ensa, who appeared in a 1989 episode of “The Cosby Show,” in the role of a girl at a party, came back into the spotlight recently when she publicly supported her father after he was repeatedly accused of sexually assaulting numerous women.

Ensa was the second-youngest of Cosby’s five children and the third of his four daughters.

Renal disease, also known as chronic kidney disease or chronic kidney failure, occurs when the kidneys begin to lose their function. Normally, the kidneys play a vital role in the body’s natural filtration system: they siphon off waste and excess fluid from the blood, which are then excreted in urine.

The disease can accelerate when dangerous levels of fluid and waste build up over time.

Many people have few symptoms of renal disease in its early stages, but the signs that your kidneys are not functioning properly may include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, changes in how much you urinate, swelling of feet and ankles, persistent itching, and high blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Without dialysis, a treatment that involves artificially filtering the blood, the disease can progress to kidney failure and be deadly.

People who develop renal failure typically have another health condition that results in impaired kidney function, like diabetes, high blood pressure, or polycystic kidney disease.

It is unclear what caused Ensa’s kidney failure to progress, but USA Today reported that she suffered from a history of medical problems.

“The Cosby Family thanks many people for their prayers for their beloved and beautiful Ensa, who recently died from renal disease,” the Cosby spokesperson who confirmed Ensa’s death said in a statement.

Ensa Cosby made headlines in May 2017 when she released a statement with her older sister, Erinn, on the popular radio show, “The Breakfast Club,” proclaiming their father’s innocence against the multiple rape allegations lodged against him.

The daughters said they were faithful listeners of the show and wanted to use it as a platform to criticize the media’s portrayal of their father, who was best known for his television role as the wise, witty dad on the long-running situation comedy “The Cosby Show.”

“The accusations against my father have been one-sided since the beginning, and when he tried to defend himself he was sued in civil court,” Ensa said in an audio statement that was aired during the morning show. “I strongly believe my father is innocent of the crimes alleged against him and I believe that racism has played a big role in all aspects of this scandal.”

“My father has been publicly lynched in the media,” she added.

Cosby, 80, is scheduled to appear in a Pennsylvania court next week for a hearing on pretrial motions ahead of his scheduled retrial on April 2.

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