COVID long-hauler study shows 50% decline in kidney functions among veterans

The research assessed 89,000 veterans who survived COVID up to a year after diagnosis.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A new study published about long-COVID is drawing attention to the risk coronavirus infections are having on declining kidney functions.

The study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology shows how patients infected with COVID are showing declining kidney functions, even those who weren't hospitalized.

The research assessed 89,000 veterans who survived COVID up to a year after diagnosis.

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"Even though they had survived, they still continued to experience significant risk for kidney disease," said Dr. Shuchi Anand, a Stanford Healthcare nephrologist. "So they had double the risk for what we call acute kidney injury. So basically another episode where they were sick and their kidneys showed damage."

Dr. Anand explains among the study pool, on average there was a two-fold higher risk in substantial decline in kidney function.

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Stephanie: How would you define substantial decline in the context of this study?

Dr. Anand: "They use a different range of measures to define kidney decline but one important one for an average person is about a 50 percent decline in kidney function."

Anand says the largest risks were in people that had been ill in the ICU or hospitalized with COVID, but added even people who hadn't been hospitalized showed abnormal kidney functions.

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"I would caution that it's not going to occur in every single person that got COVID. This is an average, a population average," Anand said. "It's probably more likely to occur in people who have other predisposing factors, people who are older, more frail, or could have diabetes or other illnesses."

Since the study is based on research of patients over the course of a year, Dr. Anand says it's possible over time some of these cases may show some recovery in kidney function.



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