Acute kidney injury may be more deadly than a heart attack, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN). The findings suggest that follow-up and surveillance may be critical to protect the health of individuals who develop this form of kidney damage. Acute kidney injury (AKI) is an abrupt decline in kidney function that often arises after major surgeries or severe infections.

(Hospitalized patients with acute kidney injury may not be receiving sufficient care after discharge)

Lakhmir Chawla, MD, from George Washington University and Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Washington, DC and his colleagues sought to look at the seriousness of AKI by analyzing patient information in a VA database. Their analysis included 36,980 patients discharged with a diagnosis of AKI or myocardial infarction (MI) who were admitted to a VA facility between October 1999 and December 2005.

The researchers found that death occurred most often in patients who experienced both AKI and MI (57.5%), and least often in patients with uncomplicated admissions for MI (32.3%). Patients with AKI, or AKI and MI, later experienced more major heart and kidney problems than those with MI alone.

(Research shows association between ACE inhibitors, acute kidney injury)

“The findings from this study will be critical for planning future interventional trials in patients with AKI,” said Chawla. “Because AKI remains an ongoing and increasing public health hazard, more research into the treatment and management of this syndrome is critically required.”

Study co-authors include Paul Kimmel, MD, Carlos Palant, MD, Andrew Shaw, MD, Charles Faselis, MD, and Richard Amdur, PhD.

The article, entitled “Association Between Acute Kidney Injury and Long-Term Renal and Cardiovascular Outcomes in US Veterans,” appears online at on December 5, 2013.

Find more articles about Acute Kidney Injury