Effect of multiple episodes of acute kidney injury on mortality: an observational study

Clin Kidney J. 2020 Feb 10;14(2):696-703. doi: 10.1093/ckj/sfz199. eCollection 2021 Feb.


Background: Patients who survive an episode of acute kidney injury (AKI) are more likely to have further episodes of AKI. AKI is associated with increased mortality, with a further increase with recurrent episodes. It is not clear whether this is due to AKI or as a result of other patient characteristics. The aim of this study was to establish whether recurrence of AKI is an independent risk factor for mortality or if excess mortality is explained by other factors.

Methods: This observational cohort study included adult people from the Tayside region of Scotland, with an episode of AKI between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2009. AKI was defined using the creatinine-based Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes definition. Associations between recurrent AKI and mortality were examined using a Cox proportional hazards model.

Results: Survival was worse in the group identified to have recurrent AKI compared with those with a single episode of AKI [hazard ratio = 1.49, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.37-1.63; P < 0.001]. After adjustment for comorbidities, stage of reference AKI, sex, age, medicines that predispose to renal impairment or, in the 3 months prior to the reference AKI, deprivation and baseline estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), recurrent AKI was independently associated with an increase in mortality (hazard ratio = 1.25, 95% CI 1.14-1.37; P < 0.001). Increasing stage of reference AKI, age, deprivation, baseline eGFR, male sex, previous myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular disease and diuretic use were all associated with an increased risk of mortality in patients with recurrent AKI.

Conclusions: Recurrent AKI is associated with increased mortality. After adjusting for patient characteristics, the increase in mortality is independently associated with recurrent AKI and is not solely explained by other risk factors.

Keywords: acute kidney injury; mortality; recurrent acute kidney injury; risk factors; survival.