How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affects Kidney Disease Patients
Patients with kidney disease were seen with higher hospitalization and death rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study reveals.
The research also appears in JASN which suggests the importance of prioritizing kidney patients in vaccination programs for COVID-19.
Approximately 800,000 people receive treatment for kidney disease within the U.S., either by undergoing dialysis or living with a kidney transplant. Many patients receive dialysis in healthcare facilities multiple times per week and thus haven’t been able to shelter in situ during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the opposite hand, patients with a transplant take medications to stop organ rejection and are therefore at risk of infection.
Before and through the COVID-19 pandemic, Eric D. Weinhandl, PhD, MS (Chronic Disease Research Group) and his colleagues analyzed data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Renal Management data system, to examine the impact of COVID-19 in these patients.
The speed of COVID-19 hospitalizations peaked between March 22 and April 25 says the findings of the team that studied patients undergoing dialysis. Dr. Weinhandl said that “the trajectory of the speed of COVID-19 hospitalizations among dialysis patients was roughly 40 times higher in magnitude and tracked the corresponding trajectory within the general population.” Patients undergoing peritoneal dialysis reception had lower rates than those receiving hemodialysis, while non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic patients are significantly higher.
Compared with rates in 2017-2019, the risks of death were higher among patients receiving dialysis (at 30%) and kidney transplants (at 17%). Non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and Asian patients have higher death rates. Patients receiving dialysis were sent to the hospital 17% less frequently than usual for causes other than COVID-19.
Dr. Weinhandl stated, “The initial phase of the pandemic’s impact on patients of both dialysis and kidney transplant has been found profound. There’s now a transparent rationale for prioritization of kidney disease patients in COVID-19 vaccination schedules promulgated by states with markedly higher rates of all-cause mortality in both kidney transplant and dialysis patients in the second quarter of 2020.”
The authors noted that the study’s finding that patients undergoing peritoneal dialysis had lower rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations compared with patients undergoing hemodialysis provide additional support for the advantages of home dialysis, aside from taking other home remedies such as citrate for kidney stones, as protection from community transmission of viruses is what the home setting offers.
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