Doctor Simon Fraser is part of a team conducting the Hampshire Acute Kidney Injury study which is part of the Public Health and Primary Care theme of NIHR CLAHRC Wessex. He writes:
Kidneys are incredibly important to the human body. Among other things, they deal with fluids that we drink and help to regulate important functions like blood pressure.
Acute kidney injury is a term that means, simply put, that the kidney stops working properly over a matter of hours or days. It can lead to serious health effects and longer hospital stays. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it can happen in hospital, for example following major surgery, or if someone has a significant infection. Quite a bit of research has gone into working out how to detect and prevent this hospital acute kidney injury.
However, it is thought that as much as two thirds of acute kidney injury happens to people who are not (or not yet) in hospital. It can happen to people who become unwell with an infection at home, for example. Less is known about who gets this kind of acute kidney injury and how best to prevent it.
Acute kidney injury can be detected by changes in quite commonly used blood tests. Our research has been using information from those routine blood tests to find out more about this ‘community’ acute kidney injury. The aim is to provide information for people who might be at risk of acute kidney injury and for doctors and nurses looking after them.
We have found that about two thirds of all acute kidney injury first arises in people when they are not in hospital. We have also found that about a third of all people with the problem are not admitted to hospital and are looked after in the surgery or at home by their GP and community nurses.
As part of this research programme we have therefore been working with kidney experts and GPs across the region to remind everyone involved in caring for people out of hospital of the importance of looking after peoples’ kidneys, to learn about acute kidney injury and how to prevent it. Often it is down to simple things such as people who become unwell remembering to drink enough fluid. Sometimes it requires making careful judgements about whether to stop certain medications or to use particular antibiotics. It has been a great experience to work with our excellent clinical teams across Wessex and to share our research on this important area.
Contact Simon by email S.Fraser@soton.ac.uk