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COVID 19 And The Kidneys – What We Know So Far?

  • By Admin
  • 11 May 2021

Many think that COVID 19 virus only affects the lungs to cause death and other ailments. But this novel virus also attacks the kidneys to cause AKI or acute kidney injury. Many kinds of research are underway to determine how it affects people's kidneys, even with no chronic disease. Check out what we know so far about COVID-19 and the kidneys to stay safe and healthy.

COVID-19 Pandemic Losses

The deadly COVID-19 virus first found in Wuhan, Hubei Province in China during December 2019, made WHO declare it a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. In the past year, it has infected 120,938,641 and killed 2,675,161 people so far. With the second wave rapidly spreading in some parts of the world, there is the fear of more infections and deaths due to it. The most affected are the elderly, and chronic disease-affected people die fast with its illness.

COVID-19 Causing ARDS & AKI

Since it is a novel virus never to have existed before, many researchers continuously conducted its effects worldwide. Few such studies now confirm that it is the lungs it affects to stop the heartbeat and damage the kidneys. So far, 70% of fatal cases because of COVID-19 were only because of ARDS or acute respiratory disease syndrome. But recent meta-analysis confirms that AKI with COVID-19 increases 13 fold the mortality risks. Also, recent findings in China confirm people are developing AKI because COVID-19 increases the death risk five times more. And the alarming fact is that it is more in developed countries. Hence it becomes essential to know more about COVID-19 and AKI.

COVID-19 & Kidney Damage

Since the new COVID-19 virus is even different from the 2003 SARS virus, it is not clear how COVID-19 damages the kidneys. The many internal parts like the lungs, heart, kidneys, and others rely on each other for normal functioning. The COVID-19 virus, causing damage on one part, may put the others also at risk. The crucial functioning of the kidneys affects the other vital organs. It is the reason that a February 2021 study confirmed that 50% of COVID-19 hospitalized patients are getting AKI. It occurs when the kidney damage is severe, not to filter the blood properly anymore. Hence the waste products build up in the blood, and the kidneys fail to function as the body cannot maintain fluid balance.

How COVID-19 Cause AKI?

The COVID-19 virus first attaches to the ACE -2 or angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptors. These receptors lie in the cells' cellular membranes lining the kidney, heart, arteries, gastrointestinal tract, and lungs. Since kidneys have more ACE 2 than other parts, the SARS CoV-2 attacks the kidneys more in the proximal tubule. It enters these cells and starts replicating its machinery to cause damage during the process. And the worst part is the AKI may not show any symptoms to lead to kidney failure and death.

Factors Increasing AKI With COVID-19

Many factors increase the chances of AKI with COVID-19 that includes

Age is a significant factor, as studies show AKI affected only 6.

People suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, kidney disease, and others are more prone to AKI.

People with the weak immune system because of many reasons have more chances of AKI.

People with low oxygen levels in their blood may be prone to AKI.

For some people, the extreme immune response to the COVID-19 virus can lead to a Cytokine storm that could destroy kidney tissue.

COVID-19 may cause blood clots to clog the kidney blood vessels to damage it

Hence it is better to be safe wearing masks and taking all precautions not to get infected by the COVID-19 virus to avoid kidney damage and lose precious lives.