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COVID-19 Infection Increases Rapid Kidney Function Decline, New Study Finds

It’s been several years since the first COVID-19 cases were reported in North America, but new information about the virus continues to emerge. In particular, questions still remain about the long-term impacts of COVID-19 and kidney disease.

In the U.S., about one in seven adults have chronic kidney disease (CKD) – that’s 35.5 million people across the country. As healthcare practitioners are well aware, much of the education for patients with CKD focuses on lowering their risk for kidney failure through medication, diet or lifestyle changes.

A recently published study in Kidney Medicine, an official journal of the National Kidney Foundation, identified another risk factor for possible kidney failure: COVID-19.

The study looked at rates of rapid kidney function decline – that is, the quick progression of the disease which can result in kidney failure – among people with moderate-to-severe CKD. Patients diagnosed with a COVID-19 infection were more likely to then experience rapid kidney function decline compared to those who did not have COVID-19 (2.5 percent of those with COVID-19 infection compared 1.5 percent of those without COVID-19 infection, a statistically significant finding.)

The authors suggest further study is needed.

Kidney Disease & COVID-19 

The links between kidney disease and COVID-19 in itself are not new information.

In general, anyone with a chronic medical condition is at a higher risk for more severe illness – including from COVID-19. People with kidney disease, on dialysis or who recently received a kidney transplant can have a weakened immune system, which makes it harder to fight infection.

For this reason, those living with kidney disease, or other underlying health conditions, were urged to take extra precautions during the pandemic.

On the other hand, some people who experienced severe cases of COVID-19 later showed signs of kidney damage even when they didn’t have any prior underlying kidney disease. In fact, studies show that more than 30 percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 developed some form of kidney injury.

Not everyone who experiences a kidney injury or who has CKD develops kidney failure. The majority are able to manage symptoms, go on dialysis or receive a kidney transplant.

However, it is estimated that nine out of ten people who have kidney disease are unaware of it,  and haven’t been diagnosed, according to data from the National Kidney Foundation. Half of people with very low kidney function, but who are not on dialysis, are similarly unaware. That makes screenings for kidney disease and research into possible risk factors of disease progression all the more critical.

At Transonic, “To Measure Is To Know” is a guiding principle. You can’t measure what you don’t know and we applaud those discovering new knowledge and critical insights that can change lives.

COVID-19 and Acute Kidney Injury