Study finds acute kidney injury associated with severe COVID-19 leads to high mortality rates

Severe cases of a COVID-19 infection can cause a host of serious complications, one of them being acute kidney injury. In a recent published study, scientists at Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) have found that acute kidney injury in patients with a severe COVID-19 infection is leading to a high mortality rate.

“These are patients who did not have kidney disease, or kidney injury prior to contracting COVID-19,” explains Dr. Peter Blake, Lawson researcher and Provincial Medical Director at the Ontario Renal Network. “This is what we call acute kidney injury, and in the case of these severe COVID-19 patients the kidney injury led to the need for acute dialysis.”

By accessing data collected through the Ontario Renal Network (ORN), Dr. Blake and his colleagues were able to examine 271 people at 27 renal programs across the province, including patients at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), who received acute dialysis for acute kidney injury due to a COVID-19 infection. The data examined was from the duration of the first two waves of the pandemic, up to January 31st, 2021.

Kidney monitoring

“This is a complication that is occurs in 10 per cent of ICU COVID-19 cases,” says Dr. Blake, who is also a nephrologist at LHSC. “Men accounted for more than 75 per cent of this condition, half of the patients were diabetic and the majority of these patients were not seniors in the later stages of life, but rather middle-aged people.”

The provincially-collected data through the ORN also showed that patient populations living in postal codes with high ethnocultural deprivation were more likely to get this condition, at a rate of more than 60 per cent, and survival rates were not promising.

“The mortality rate was shockingly high with 64 per cent of these patients dying within 90 days,” adds Dr. Blake. “Many of those who survived remained in hospital for a long period of time and the one in five that did survive have remained on long-term dialysis.”

This study has been published in the Clinical Kidney Journal.  Looking ahead, the research team plans to follow up with patients who have survived this severe complication to track what lasting health affects occur within a six-to twelve-month post-survival period.

Quick Study Facts: 

  • 271 people were studied with AKI-RRT
  • Median age was 65 years old 
  • 11% of cases were under 50 years of age
  • 76% of cases were male
  • Mortality rate was 50% at 30 days after RRT initiation, and 64% at 90 days
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Celine Zadorsky

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Lawson Health Research Institute
T: 519-685-8500 ext. 75664
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