This picture shows a cross section of a kidney. Photo credit: Holly Fischer / Wikipedia

A new analysis shows that people with kidney failure experienced particularly high hospital stays and death rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results, which will appear in an upcoming issue of JASN, will help prioritize these patients in COVID-19 vaccination programs.

Approximately 800,000 people in the United States are being treated for kidney failure, either through dialysis or living with a kidney transplant. Many patients are dialyzed several times a week in health facilities and were therefore unable to protect themselves on site during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, transplant patients take medication to prevent organ rejection and are therefore prone to infection.

To investigate the effects of COVID-19 on these patients, Eric D. Weinhandl, Ph.D., MS (Chronic Disease Research Group, a division of the Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute and the U.S. Renal Data System Coordination Center) and his Die Colleagues analyzed data from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services kidney management information system before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team found that for dialysis patients, the rate of COVID-19 hospital stays peaked between March 22 and April 25. “The rate of COVID-19 hospitalization for dialysis patients tracked that of the general population but was approximately 40 times higher,” said. Dr. Weinhandl. Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic patients had particularly high rates of hospitalization, while patients who received peritoneal dialysis at home had lower rates compared to patients who received hemodialysis in clinics.

The risk of dying for any reason was 17% and 30% higher in dialysis patients and kidney transplant patients from March 22 to July 4, respectively, compared to 2017-2019. The death rates were particularly high in non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and Asian patients. During this time, dialysis patients were hospitalized 17% less than usual for reasons other than COVID-19.

“This study suggests that the effects of the early stages of the pandemic on both dialysis and kidney transplant patients were profound,” said Dr. Weinhandl. “With significantly higher all-cause mortality rates in both dialysis and kidney transplant patients in Q2 2020, there is now a clear rationale for prioritizing patients with kidney failure in COVID-19 vaccination schedules published by states.”

The authors found that the study’s findings that patients undergoing peritoneal dialysis had a lower rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations compared to patients undergoing hemodialysis provided additional support for the benefits of home dialysis as the home environment provides protection from the spread of viruses through the community.

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More information:
“Novel Coronavirus Disease First Impact on Patients with End-Stage Kidney Disease 2019,” DOI: 10.1681 / ASN.2021010009, provided by the American Society of Nephrology

Quote: The effects of COVID-19 on people with kidney failure (2021, April 8) were published on April 8, 2021 from retrieved

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