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COVID-19 may intensify kidney damage in people with acute kidney injury (AKI), researchers report.
AKI is a sudden decline in the kidney's filtration function that happens to 15% of hospitalized patients. It increases a patient's likelihood of death 10-fold.
The reason is unknown, but AKI is more common — and often more severe — in COVID patients. Previous research has found that between 24% and 57% of people hospitalized with COVID developed AKI.
"COVID-AKI looks like a different form of AKI in terms of long-term effects," said study author Dr. F. Perry Wilson, director of Yale University's Clinical and Translational Research Accelerator in New Haven, Conn.
This new study suggests COVID-19 may put patients at risk for a more serious form of AKI.
It included 182 hospital patients with COVID-associated AKI and 1,430 patients who had AKI but not COVID.
Six months after their hospital stays, AKI patients with COVID-19 had 12 times the loss of kidney function compared to those without COVID, according to findings published March 22 in the journal JAMA Network Open.
Researchers measured kidney function by what's known as estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). It is a measure of how much blood per minute passes through small filters in the kidney called glomeruli.
A healthy person has an eGFR of 90 or more milliliters (mL) per minute. A person with AKI has a decline of 1 to 2 mL per minute, a mild loss of kidney function. But the COVID-19/AKI patients had a decline of about 12 mL per minute.
It's not known what drives this more aggressive form of AKI in COVID patients, but the study authors suggest that COVID-19/AKI may induce scarring within the kidney.
They plan to continue following the COVID-19/AKI patients to learn more about the long-term effects of the condition, Wilson said.
The National Kidney Foundation has more on acute kidney injury.
SOURCE: Yale University, news release, March 22, 2021
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