Potentially fatal condition hiding in Covid patients: 'Shocking find'

·2-min read

Millions of Covid-19 patients may have a potentially fatal undiagnosed condition that is often missed in the early and critical days of hospitalisation, and it could determine the recovery rate of patients, new research has revealed.

One in five virus patients admitted to hospital develop acute kidney disease (AKI), a condition where the kidneys fail to filter waste from the blood, Dr Marina Wainstein, from the University of Queensland revealed.

That number is higher for those in intensive care, with two in five affected, but the true numbers could be double those figures, the kidney specialist confirmed, adding "it's a pretty shocking finding".

Dr Wainstein said ‘missing’ a AKI diagnosis in Covid-19 patients is dangerous and could have a fatal outcome.

Hospital staff wheeling bed through hall and covid virus
News research reveals millions of covid patients develop acute kidney disease (AKI) Source: Getty

"Even though the AKI is already starting to improve in hospital, our research shows that these patients have worse in-hospital outcomes and are more likely to die compared to patients with no AKI," she said of their findings.

Dr Wainstein said proper AKI diagnosis was vital as there are relatively simple treatments for the potentially fatal disease, such as increasing a patient's hydration level and stopping medications that can be toxic to kidneys.

Doctors test for the disease by monitoring a patient's urination and creatinine levels in their blood, but if a patient's creatinine levels rise before they're hospitalised with Covid-19 they may not be diagnosed with AKI, said Dr Wainstein

Dr Sally Shrapnel, who supervised the study, said analysing the data was difficult as it was collected by a hospital staff worker under "extremely onerous conditions" in a range of settings.

Elderly man laying in hospital bed and hospital staff standing beside him wearing mask
Patients with AKI have worse in-hospital outcomes and have higher chance of dying from the virus. Source: getty

However, the study included data from countries where people had limited access to healthcare, she said and were more likely to present to hospital when the disease was advanced.

Dr Shrapnel said she hopes the study will create more comprehensive AKI definition and improve testing of patients for the disease.

"Now we have the data showing a large gap in AKI diagnosis exists, it's time to test this definition in a clinical trial so we can identify all AKI patients early and hopefully prevent these awful outcomes," she said.

- with AAP

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