NIH Trying to Raise Awareness of Lifelong Impact of Acute Kidney Injury

People taking OTC medicines for headaches, pain, fever, or colds should ask their pharmacist or physician whether they are safe to use. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including ibuprofen and naproxen are NSAIDs that can harm the kidneys.

The National Insitutes of Health is observing World Kidney Day, March 14, by trying to raise awareness of the long-term effects of acute kidney injury, which is defined as a sudden loss of kidney function. Research funded by NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases suggests survivors of AKI have a lifelong higher risk for developing permanent kidney damage.

AKI rates are highest among hospitalized patients and people with existing kidney problems, but it can occur in people with normally functioning kidneys because of illness, injury, or certain medicines, including over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Rates of severe AKI are rising; the rate of severe AKI requiring dialysis has increased by 10 percent each year during the past decade, and deaths related to this have 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 Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, director of NIDDK. "We must continue to support research to help us better understand the connection between acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease, to prevent acute kidney injury in those at risk, and to identify and treat the condition when it does occur."

The NIDDK-funded Safe Kidney Care Cohort Study has the goal of helping to prevent acute medical injuries, such as AKI in patients with chronic kidney disease, by researching the frequency of chronic kidney disease patient exposure to injury-inducing medicines, tests, or procedures. It also will assess the efficacy of medical alert jewelry as a method to reduce the risk of such injuries.

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