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Kidneys

Kidney involvement
Kidney or renal involvement in systemic scleroderma may be mild or very serious in nature. Early signs of kidney involvement may include mild hypertension (high blood pressure), protein in the urine and blood test abnormalities. Renal crisis, a highly dangerous complication of systemic scleroderma, may occur quite quickly. The most important warning sign is a sudden rise in blood pressure. Other symptoms are headache, visual disturbances, shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, or mental confusion.

Unless treated promptly, renal crisis leads to kidney failure, a condition in which the kidneys lose their ability to eliminate waste products from the body. The treatment of choice involves anti-hypertensive drugs that belong to the category of ACE inhibitors. These medications are quite effective to control blood pressure and stabilize or improve kidney function. In cases of severe kidney failure, dialysis may be required. People with scleroderma are advised to have their blood pressure and kidney function monitored at regular intervals. People may recover successfully from renal crisis, but only if the problem is recognized and treated quickly.

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