What Is the Main Idea?

Learn more about acute kidney injury and its impact on the body. Discover how this condition can worsen the impact of other conditions, including COVID-19. This post references a study on co-occurrence of COVID-19 and acute kidney injury, which is described in the free access research paper ‘Community- and Hospital-Acquired Acute Kidney Injury in COVID-19: Different Phenotypes and Dismal Prognosis’ published in the journal Blood Purification.

What Else Can You Learn?

See why it’s important to be proactive about your kidney health and discuss your risk factors with your primary care physician. Recognizing acute kidney injury early does improve outcomes, but mitigating the risk of developing it is advisable.

Why Should You Talk about Your Kidney Health?

Kidney problems can worsen the impact of other conditions, including COVID-19. That means if you have any kidney problems, you should make your current doctors aware of them, both to ensure you’re in the right priority group for COVID-19 vaccination and so they can take appropriate steps if you do contract the virus.

This free access research article might be of interest to your doctor. It deals with acute kidney injury and COVID-19.

What Is Acute Kidney Injury?

Acute kidney injury is also sometimes called acute renal failure. It’s the diagnosis given when kidney function is disrupted suddenly, going from healthy to damaged or non-functional within a few days or even a few hours. Waste products then build up in the blood because the kidneys are not filtering it properly. Symptoms can include swelling in the legs, ankles and around the eyes, fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain, and even confusion or seizures. It always requires a hospital stay as part of the treatment. Not everyone requires dialysis, but it can be necessary.

The condition can be caused by decreased blood flow to the kidneys. This could be related to injury, overuse of pain medication, the failure of other organs or major surgery. It can also be caused by direct damage to the kidneys from diseases like multiple myeloma, sepsis or scleroderma. Another cause is blockages of the urinary tract, for example due to kidney stones or bladder, prostate or cervical cancer. There is also some evidence that long-term use of diuretics can lead to acute kidney injury.

It is common in hospitalized patients, especially when they are in intensive care units. This is referred to as hospital-acquired acute kidney injury. It is distinct from community-acquired acute kidney injury.

The Long-Term Effects of Acute Kidney Injury

After recovery, you still have a higher chance of other health problems: heart disease, stroke, additional episodes of acute kidney failure, chronic kidney failure and kidney disease. It’s essential that sufferers of this condition work with their healthcare providers to monitor their kidney recovery and behavior — and, as mentioned above, to consider the increase in risk from other conditions.

The Impact of Acute Kidney Injury on COVID-19 Prognosis

In the study, researchers looked at 1,170 hospitalized COVID-19 patients to see how many also had acute kidney injury. All the patients included in the study presented with severe COVID-19 pneumonia and required supplementary oxygen, but none of them had prior kidney transplantation or end-stage kidney disease.

They found that both the hospital-acquired and community-acquired forms were common: 11% of patients had the former and 19% had the latter. Sadly, around 50% of patients presenting both COVID-19 and acute kidney injury passed away. This was a much higher mortality rate than in patients who did not have acute kidney injury.

Other relationships between COVID-19 and acute kidney injury include longer periods on ventilation and longer hospital stays. It is also noted that even the patients that recover from COVID-19 can have a greater risk of developing chronic kidney injury.

Talk to Your Physician about Kidney Health!

Studies like this one can cause a lot of worry. People might ask themselves if they’re at risk of acute kidney injury and worry more about their COVID-19 risk. That’s why it’s so important to be proactive about kidney health. Talk to your primary care physician about your kidney health. Understand your risk factors and then try to mitigate them. Early and appropriate management of acute kidney injury seems to improve short-term outcomes and research is ongoing into how to achieve even better outcomes.

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