30% increase in weight-gain linked kidney ailments since lockdown

Hyderabad, March 10: There is an estimated 30 per cent increase in ‘weight-gain’ linked kidney ailments since the start of Covid-19 induced lockdown last year.

Doctors at Gleneagles Global Hospitals here attribute this to sedentary habits that have crept into daily life.

“Sedentary habits have crept into everyday lives of people since the start of Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown due to it. Among those visiting us at the hospital, we observed there are at least 30 per cent patients who are at an amplified risk of kidneys ailments arising due to increased body weight,” said Gandhe Sridhar, Chief Consultant Nephrologist, Gleneagles Global Hospitals.

“The lockdown produced behavioural, psychosocial, and environmental changes which, through a variety of mechanisms, has led to widespread rapid weight gain amongst certain sections of the population. There has been an increase in food shopping, food take away, and surge in alcohol sales, resulted in increase in obesity instances, and related kidney problems,” he said.

Doctors say obesity is potent factor for the development of major risks for chronic kidney disease, like diabetes and hypertension, and it has a direct impact on the development of even the end-stage renal disease.

Being overweight can directly affect kidneys, and extra weight forces the kidneys to work harder and filter wastes above the normal levels. Obesity raises blood pressure by increasing renal tubular sodium reabsorption, impairing pressure natriuresis, and causing volume expansion because of activation of the sympathetic nervous system and renin-angiotensin system and by physical compression of the kidneys, especially when visceral obesity is present.

“Job losses linked to Covid-19 pandemic increased stress levels resulting into high-blood pressure and increase in metabolic syndrome among people, which is dangerous for the kidneys because it can increase the pressure on the glomeruli,” said Dhananjaya Kappadi Lingappareddy, Consultant Nephrologist & Kidney Transplant Physician, Continental Hospitals.

Glomeruli are the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys where blood is cleaned, and over time, the increased pressure damages these vessels and kidney function begins to decline. Considering all these scenarios, it is best advised people lead a physically active life daily, to ensure their internal organs do not feel the pressure of excessive body weight or BP leading to problems like kidney failures, he added.

According to P. Vijay Verma, Consultant Nephrologist, SLG Hospitals, fear of Covid-19 pandemic dissuaded many with early-stage as well as end-stage kidney ailments from seeking timely medical help at hospitals. “And this led to some devastating outcomes among the low immunity sections along with the aged population. People struggling with obesity fared poorly with their weight-control plans flying off the rails as they coped with the stress of the pandemic, and this did no good to those with kidney ailments,” he said.

Doctors say kidney problems generally do not cause symptoms until they enter a more advanced stage. However, a basic metabolic panel and complete urine examination are standard tests that can be done as part of a routine medical exam to check blood for creatinine or urea. These are chemicals that leak into the blood when the kidneys are not working properly, and tests can detect kidney problems early, when they are easier to treat. And one should be tested annually if they have diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure.