An unfortunate and too common occurrence during hospitalization is the rapid deterioration in kidney function known as acute kidney injury (AKI). AKI affects 20 percent of hospitalized patients and about 70 percent of patients in the intensive care unit.
AKI is not necessarily caused by hospitalization; although, studies show that kidney-damaging drugs are often given to hospitalized patients, particularly patients admitted through the emergency room. Many health professionals are not aware of the kidney dangers of some drugs routinely administered. For example, a CT scan with contrast dye is often used to detect causes of injury (when a simple x-ray might work) or the root of cardiovascular issues (when an MRI without dye might work). Without preliminary precautions, the dye can accelerate kidney damage in a person with already-compromised kidney function.
AKI most often results from reduced or blocked blood flow to the kidney, caused by conditions such as shock, trauma, sepsis, and heart attack. It also occurs during surgical procedures. Older people, particularly those with cardiovascular issues, are at greatest risk for AKI.
As a researcher in a December 2013 study put it: “If you develop acute kidney injury, not much good happens longterm.” The study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that having a heart attack is less deadly than developing AKI.
Here’s the AKI scoop:
- People with kidney disease are 7 times more likely to have an AKI episode and then 4 times more likely to need dialysis.
- People with diabetes are 24% more likely to need dialysis because of AKI.
- Over one-fourth of patients who survive an AKI episode die within one year. If AKI occurred in intensive care, the resulting death rate is up to 80%.
- Of those surviving AKI, nearly half develop chronic kidney disease and 65% of those require long-term dialysis.
Researchers are aggressively attempting to find ways to detect AKI earlier for better treatment and survival odds. Use of ACE Inhibitors after an AKI episode appears to somewhat decrease mortality and the need for dialysis.