Superbug link to major rise in kidney injury
Superbugs and the overuse of medication have been linked to an alarming rise in sudden kidney damage.
Researchers at the Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS)at the University of Limerick found the rates of acute kidney injury (AKI) in Ireland more than doubled between 2005 and 2014.
"In 2014, one in eight patients had an acute event. That's absolutely staggering," said Professor Austin Stack, foundation chair of medicine at GEMS and lead author of the study.
AKI can be triggered by dehydration, infection with superbugs like MRSA or pneumonia, over-use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and blood loss.
It causes sudden temporary loss of kidney function.
Once the injury has occurred, sufferers are more prone to kidney failure later and likely to suffer an early death, added Prof Stack, a consultant nephrologist at University Hospital Limerick.
"Our study has uncovered a huge surge in AKI rates over the past 10 years," he said.
"We tracked over 450,000 patients in the Irish health system from 2005 to 2014 and identified more than 40,000 episodes of AKI. We found that the overall rate of AKI increased from 5.5pc to 12.4pc, which was a growth of 126pc."
The study, using data from the National Kidney Disease Surveillance System at the university, found that the highest rates of AKI were among hospital patients.
Dr Leonard Browne, the senior author of the study and research fellow, said: "The increase in AKI could in part be explained by an increase in the number of elderly patients in the health system and a larger proportion of patients with poorer kidney function."
However, Prof Stack said age alone does not account for the rise in incidents.
Poor health care practices, such as the spread of infection in hospitals and other health- care settings, the dehydration of patients forced to fast ahead of surgery without being properly hydrated and the over-use of anti-inflammatory medicines that can damage the kidneys are the more likely causes, he said.
"If we were offering fantastic care across the system we wouldn't be seeing these rates," he told the Irish Independent.
He added that a national strategy is needed to prevent AKI through greater "public and physician awareness and education".