Comparison of COVID-19 versus influenza on the incidence, features, and recovery from acute kidney injury in hospitalized United States Veterans

Bethany C. Birkelo, Sharidan K. Parr, Amy M. Perkins, Robert A. Greevy, Adriana M. Hung, Shailja C. Shah, Juan Pablo Arroyo, Jason Denton, Andrew J. Vincz, Michael E. Matheny, Edward D. Siew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Acute kidney injury is a common complication in patients hospitalized with SARSCoV-2 (COVID-19), with prior studies implicating multiple potential mechanisms of injury. Although COVID-19 is often compared to other respiratory viral illnesses, few formal comparisons of these viruses on kidney health exist. In this retrospective cohort study, we compared the incidence, features, and outcomes of acute kidney injury among Veterans hospitalized with COVID-19 or influenza and adjusted for baseline conditions using weighted comparisons. A total of 3402 hospitalizations for COVID-19 and 3680 hospitalizations for influenza admitted between October 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020 across 127 Veterans Administration hospitals nationally were studied using the electronic medical record. Acute kidney injury occurred more frequently among those with COVID-19 compared to those with influenza (40.9% versus 29.4%, weighted analysis) and was more severe. Patients with COVID-19 were more likely to require mechanical ventilation and vasopressors and experienced higher mortality. Proteinuria and hematuria were frequent in both groups but more common in COVID-19. Recovery of kidney function was less common in patients with COVID-19 and acute kidney injury but was similar among survivors. Thus, findings from this study confirm that acute kidney injury is more common and severe among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to influenza, a finding that may be driven largely by illness severity. Hence, the combined impact of these two illnesses on kidney health may be significant and have important implications for resource allocation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)894-905
Number of pages12
JournalKidney international
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • COVID-19
  • acute kidney injury
  • hematuria
  • influenza
  • proteinuria


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