In a new study, researchers found chronic kidney disease to be the leading risk factor for hospitalization from COVID-19.
The research was conducted by A team of Geisinger scientists.
In the study, the team analyzed the health records of 12,971 individuals who were tested for COVID-19 within the Geisinger system.
Of this group, 1,604 were COVID-positive and 354 required hospitalization.
The team analyzed the records for the association between specific health conditions, including kidney, heart, respiratory and metabolic conditions, and COVID-19 hospitalization.
Overall, chronic kidney disease was most strongly linked to hospitalization, and COVID-19 patients with end-stage renal disease were 11 times more likely to be admitted to the hospital than patients without kidney disease.
How underlying medical conditions increase the risk of COVID-19-related complications is not yet fully clear.
However, the study suggests that the physiological stress caused by an excessive inflammatory response to COVID-19 infection could destabilize organs already weakened by chronic disease, or that organ injury from the virus could act as a ‘second hit’ to these organs.
While the sample size studied was relatively small, Geisinger’s resources as an integrated health system allowed for a fairly comprehensive analysis of available data.
One author of the study is Alex Chang, M.D., Geisinger nephrologist and co-director of Geisinger’s Kidney Health Research Institute.
The study is published in PLOS ONE.
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