Why is acute kidney injury a problem?
AKI is a sudden, rapid loss of kidney function. In the UK alone, around 615,000 episodes are reported each year, leading to 100,000 deaths. It happens for many different reasons, including dehydration, conditions causing reduced blood flow to the kidneys, infection, and certain medication. It can lead to a build-up of waste products which affect other organs like the brain, heart, and lungs. While kidney health can recover if AKI is diagnosed and treated early, it often means long hospital stays and an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD).
It is crucial that AKI is diagnosed early, but this is not simple: no single test can diagnose AKI, and it can happen to any patient in any hospital department. The current NHS AKI alert system uses indicators like changes in blood test results to recognise AKI onset, but there is no way to accurately predict who will develop AKI before it happens.