Flu May Be a Factor in Many Kidney Failure Deaths

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MONDAY, Jan. 28, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Seasonal flu and other respiratory infections may be especially dangerous for kidney failure patients, researchers say.A new study found that influenza-like illnesses likely contribute to more than 1,000 deaths among kidney failure patients in the United States each year. These illnesses include potentially serious respiratory tract infections caused by flu and other viruses.According to the study authors, death rates among kidney failure patients are high, and have seasonal fluctuations. In addition, they noted that influenza-like illnesses disproportionately affect vulnerable people, such as those with end-stage kidney disease, and peak during colder months.The degree to which these flu-like illnesses contribute to death in kidney failure patients is unclear, so the researchers decided to investigate the link.For the study, David Gilbertson, co-director of the Chronic Disease Research Group at Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute in Minneapolis, and his colleagues reviewed 14 years of federal data.The team analyzed the data to determine influenza-like illness and kidney failure death rates in each quarter of the year. Flu season occurs in the fourth quarter (Q4) of each year and the first quarter (Q1) of the following year.In Q4, a 1 percent increase in flu-like illnesses was associated with a 1.5 percent rise in deaths among patients with kidney failure, compared to the average death rate in Q3 (summer), the findings showed.