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NIH Highlights Lifelong Effect of Acute Kidney Injury

Research and education initiatives are under way (Mar. 13)

In observance of World Kidney Day on March 14, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is raising awareness of the long-term effects of acute kidney injury (AKI), or the sudden loss of kidney function. Research funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the NIH, suggests that survivors of AKI have a lifelong increased risk of developing permanent kidney damage, resulting in decreased kidney function.

While rates of AKI are highest among hospitalized patients and people with existing kidney problems, the disorder can also occur in people with normally functioning kidneys — usually as a result of illness, injury, or certain medicines. Rates of severe AKI are growing. During the past decade, the U.S. rate of AKI requiring dialysis has increased by 10% each year, and the associated deaths have more than doubled, according to an NIDDK-supported study.

“We now know acute kidney injury is not the isolated or temporary condition we once believed it to be. However, in many cases, it is preventable and treatable,” said NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers, MD.

The NIDDK supports several research and education initiatives to improve the prevention and treatment of AKI and to better understand the effects of the disease:

  • The NIDDK-funded Assessment, Serial Evaluation, and Subsequent Sequelae in Acute Kidney Injury Network is a study focused on improving the understanding of long-term outcomes following episodes of AKI, including potential increased risks, such as heart attack or death.
  • The NIDDK-funded Safe Kidney Care Cohort Study aims to help prevent acute medical injuries — such as AKI in patients with chronic kidney disease — by gaining an understanding of the frequency of exposure of chronic kidney disease patients to injury-inducing medicines, tests, or procedures. In addition, the study will assess the efficacy of medical-alert jewelry as a method to reduce the risk of such medical injuries.
  • The Pharmacy Working Group of the NIH’s National Kidney Disease Education Program (NKDEP) is working to reduce AKI caused by medicines — including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — through a pharmacist-targeted education initiative focused on NSAID avoidance in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Source: NIH; March 13, 2013.

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