News Release

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

NIH highlights lifelong impact of acute kidney injury

In observance of World Kidney Day on March 14, the National Institutes of Health is raising awareness of the long term effects of acute kidney injury (AKI) — a sudden loss of kidney function. Research funded by the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) suggests survivors of AKI have a lifelong increased risk for developing permanent kidney damage, resulting in decreased kidney function.

While rates of AKI are highest among hospitalized patients and people with existing kidney problems, AKI can also occur in people with normally functioning kidneys — usually as a result of illness, injury, or certain medicines. Rates of severe AKI are growing. Over the past decade, the U.S. rate of AKI requiring dialysis has increased by 10 percent each year and the associated deaths 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 Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., NIDDK director. "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."

NIDDK supports several research and education initiatives to improve the prevention and treatment of AKI and to better understand the effects of the disease:

  • The NIDDK-funded Assessment, Serial Evaluation, and Subsequent Sequelae in Acute Kidney Injury Network is a study focused on improving the understanding of long-term outcomes following episodes of AKI, including potential increased risks such as heart attack or death.

  • The NIDDK-funded Safe Kidney Care Cohort Study aims to help prevent acute medical injuries — such as AKI in patients with chronic kidney disease by gaining an understanding of the frequency of chronic kidney disease patient exposure to injury-inducing medicines, tests, or procedures. In addition, the study will assess the efficacy of medical alert jewelry as a method to reduce the risk of such medical injuries.

  • The Pharmacy Working Group of NIH’s National Kidney Disease Education Program (NKDEP) is working to reduce AKI caused by medicines — including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs — through a pharmacist-targeted education initiative focused on NSAID avoidance in chronic kidney disease patients.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the NIH, conducts and supports basic and clinical research and research training on some of the most common, severe, and disabling conditions affecting Americans. NIDDK’s research interests include diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition, and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases. For more information on chronic kidney disease and medicines, visit the NKDEP Medicines and Kidney Disease website,

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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