Blog Post

COVID-19: National Kidney Foundation's Dr. Vassalotti Outlines Steps Kidney Disease Patients Can Take to Stay Healthy


For people living with kidney disease, preventing COVID-19 takes more than adhering to the CDC guidelines. And while more data and information about COVID-19 and its effect on kidney disease patients is being gathered, the severity with which this pandemic virus affects this population, specifically dialysis and transplant patients, cannot be overstated. Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, Chief Medical Officer for the National Kidney Foundation, hosted a Facebook Live event to share information about COVID-19 and the steps kidney disease patients should take to remain as healthy as possible during this unprecedented time.

Below is a high-level recap of Dr. Vassalotti’s remarks, and his full presentation, including a Q&A with patients, can be found here.

The Big Picture:

  • Massive effort underway to better understand the risks for kidney transplant recipients and dialysis patients. Initial results indicate a higher risk for more severe infection.
  • Learning from other countries suggests that the poor outcomes of dialysis patients who contracted COVID-19 were related to having missed dialysis rather than the infection itself.
  • At this time, it is critical to maintain treatment regimens, including dialysis, unless advised otherwise by dialysis/transplant care team or healthcare specialist.
    • For dialysis patients, this means continuing dialysis treatment. Dialysis centers are taking steps to screen patients for COVID-19 and protect those receiving dialysis in centers. Modern Healthcare’s recent coverage of precautions dialysis centers are taking can be found here.
    • Transplant patients should continue to take immunosuppressant medications as prescribed. It is critically important for patients to stay healthy and avoid hospital care as it may increase the risk of contracting COVID-19.
  • While not directly related to current dialysis and transplant patients, there is evidence that acute kidney injury seems to be a complication of the infection in about 10% of those hospitalized with the virus.

The COVID-19 pandemic has us all in uncharted territory. Healthmap Solutions will continue to gather information to advance our understanding of this contagious virus and its implication for patients with kidney disease. Of utmost importance right now is ensuring dialysis and transplant patients have continued and safe access to the critically important and ongoing treatment and care they need to best maintain their health and wellbeing. Please follow us on LinkedIn @healthmapcare and Facebook for updates.