Blog Post

COVID-19 and the Kidneys

Significant research has been published over the last few years indicating a link between COVID-19 and Acute Kidney Injury (AKI). While lifesaving vaccines and innovative treatments have alleviated much of the ongoing threat for newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients, patients who have experienced AKI will continue to require ongoing care and monitoring.

Back in the spring of 2020, The New York Times published an article initially calling attention to this crisis. The article noted that of the COVID-19 patients who ended up in the ICU, an estimated 20% – 40% had developed Acute Kidney Injury. As the virus continued to sweep the country and the globe, the same pattern was identified in hospitalized patients in Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, and beyond. This was true regardless of the variant the patient encountered.

As the pandemic went on, a clearer picture of its impact on long-term kidney health emerged. Not only was COVID-19 causing AKI, it was also leaving patients with more severe kidney damage than non-COVID-19 induced AKI. A Yale research study found that patients who developed AKI while being treated for COVID-19 had significantly reduced kidney function in the months following discharge than non-COVID-19 patients with AKI. COVID-AKI patients had an eGFR decline of about 12 milliliters per minute, compared to a non-COVID-19 patient with AKI, who experienced a decline of only 1 to 2 milliliters per minute. In other words, COVID-19-related AKI was six to 12 times more damaging to kidney function.

For patients who survived both COVID-19 and AKI, ongoing care and monitoring will be critical to their long-term health. Patients who experienced AKI should be closely monitored by their nephrologist.

  • COVID-AKI patients with known comorbidities, such as diabetes or hypertension, must adhere closely to their medication. Deviation could place undue strain on the kidneys, exacerbating existing damage.
  • Lifestyle changes should be made where necessary. A healthy diet, exercise, and smoking cessation are even more important for those who experienced COVID-19-related AKI.
  • Primary care physicians and nephrologists should ensure their patients receive routine protein to creatinine ratio testing along with GFR testing.
At Healthmap, our robust data capabilities, advanced technology, and predictive analytics allow us to identify those at risk for kidney disease and intervene to delay or slow disease progression. We work closely with doctors across the kidney care spectrum, from primary care physicians and nephrologists to cardiologists, endocrinologists, and mental health professionals, to ensure patients get the care they need and are supported throughout their kidney health journey. We champion patients and their care partners in becoming empowered, active, and informed on their condition. To learn more about Healthmap’s solutions, contact us today.