According to a story from Healio, researchers are hard at work determining who could be at the greatest risk from infection with COVID-19/coronavirus. So far, the elderly, people with heart disease/high blood pressure, newborns, diabetes patients, and pregnant women are at greatest risk. However, the researchers have also identified another patient population for whom the virus could present a more worrying problem: patients with end stage kidney disease.
About Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Chronic kidney disease is an illness in which the functionality of the kidneys is affected over time. This progressive disease can occur over a period of months or years and often results in eventual kidney failure. This disease often causes no symptoms at first. There are a number of risk factors for chronic kidney disease, such as diabetes, glomerulonephritis, family history, and high blood pressure. The cause is not known in all cases. As the disease progresses, symptoms such as leg swelling, confusion, fatigue, vomiting, loss of appetite, heart disease, bone disease, anemia, and high blood pressure may appear. Treatment may include dietary changes, certain medications, and, in later stages, dialysis or kidney transplant. The most common cause of death for people with chronic kidney disease is cardiovascular disease, which may appear before the kidneys completely shut down. To learn more about chronic kidney disease, click here.
The researchers say that patients in need of dialysis, especially those that must travel to a dialysis center, are at an elevated risk of getting infected. They also tend to have greater disparities in infectivity and symptoms. Center workers, caregivers, and family members are also at increased risk.
In general, COVID-19 patients often present with a greater frequency of kidney problems. A study found that 34 percent of patients developed albuminuria during their first day at the hospital and a further 63 percent developed proteinuria during their stay. 27 percent of patients also had elevated blood urea nitrogen and this also appeared to increase risk of death, with two thirds of patients that died showing this characteristic.
The authors of the study offered these guidelines in regards to the operation of dialysis centers to account for COVID-19:
- Minimize all group activities
- Staff members should dine at different times; remove safety equipment such hats and goggles during meals; avoid conversation during meals
- Patients should avoid meals during dialysis
- Patients who are suspected to be infected must remain on dialysis and personnel should keep on the same shifts to avoid contamination
- caregivers/staff should wear protective gear (goggles, masks, caps, waterproof isolation clothing)