Many people do not realize that COVID-19 can affect more than a patient’s lungs. As more and more research on the affects of COVID-19 disseminates, we are finding out that the disease also has the potential to cause long term damage to the kidneys. As advocates for kidney care, Renalogic continues to monitor data around the virus’s impact on the patient’s kidneys, and want to share everything we know so far.
We have learned that COVID-19 can cause kidney damage in patients who did not previously have kidney problems. The disease may lead to a serious complication called Acute Kidney Injury (AKI). When patients are hospitalized, they can develop AKI from hypoxia (low oxygen), low blood pressure, and shock. AKI can lead to CKD or kidney failure. According to the National Kidney Foundation, AKI is occurring in about 15% of all hospitalized COVID patients.
How the virus can damage the kidneys:
- ACE2 Receptors: the virus binds to ACE2 receptors on renal tubular cells. These receptors open the cell membrane and allow the virus to enter, multiply, and attack the kidneys. This viral DNA has been identified inside kidney tissue and in the urine of COVID patients.
- Cytokines: Infected patients activate Helper T cells that release cytokines. These cytokines attract immune cells to suppress the virus but can also harm local tissue by initiating an inflammatory reaction.
- Blood Clots: Kidneys filter toxins, fluids and waste products from the body. The virus may cause tiny clots to form in the bloodstream, which can clog the small blood vessels in the kidneys and impair function.
We knew that patients with CKD were among some of the most vulnerable, but now we find patients with no previous history of kidney disease may ALSO face kidney damage as a result of the virus. Even after recovering from AKI, viral pneumonia, heart failure, and shock associated with COVID-19, patients may have a permanent reduction in kidney function and require dialysis. News related to the Coronavirus is changing every day. Renalogic continues to monitor the virus’s impacts on kidneys so we can continue to educate and support our members.
During these unprecedented times within the healthcare space, it’s never been more important to focus our efforts on maintaining the health of plan members. Find out how we can help: