Elderly Americans who required dialysis for kidney disease treatment are at a significantly increased risk of dying from COVID-19, a new study suggests.
Researchers from the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, found that more than a quarter of Medicare patients on dialysis who contracted the virus died from it.
Those who had a recent long-term stay in a nursing home were especially at risk, with researchers finding they were nearly five times as likely to die from Covid.
The findings provide more evidence of the risk of death that people with kidney disease, and particularly older people have faced during the pandemic.
There was a surge in deaths of Medicare patients on dialysis in 2020 (yellow line) after figures stayed consistent from 2013 to 2019 (blue lines). Researchers from the University of Michigan found that dialysis patients who stayed in nursing homes were especially at risk
Around 71 percent of Americans suffering from end stage kidney disease are on dialysis.
The highly intensive treatment assists a person's kidneys in clearing toxins from the blood - a job usually performed by the organ.
Researchers, who published their findings on Wednesday in JAMA Network Open, gathered data from nearly 500,000 Medicare patients who are undergoing dialysis treatment.
Medicare is available to Americans aged 65 and older, meaning that all members of the data set were people whose age put them at risk of serious Covid complications.
Around 12 percent, or 60,000, people whose data was included in the study tested positive for Covid.
More than a quarter, 15,612 - or 26 percent - ended up dying from the virus.
The researchers then pulled out specific members of the population that had stayed at a nursing home at some point in