Game changing treatment for chronic kidney disease could slow its progression

Transplant nephrologist says there is a class of medications that do just that

About 15% of adults in the U.S. are estimated to have chronic kidney disease — that’s about 37 million people.

What if those people could be treated with medication that could slow the progression of their disease, and help avoid the need for dialysis and kidney transplantation?

ExploreLocal nurse practitioner works to eliminate kidney disease disparities

Dr. Naim Issa, a Mayo Clinic transplant nephrologist, said there is a class of medications to help people with chronic kidney disease that does just that. He said Mayo Clinic has been incorporating these medications to help patients for the past few years.

Most people don’t have symptoms of chronic kidney disease until it’s at an advanced stage.

“Early detection of chronic kidney disease may help us actually treat and prevent patients ahead of time before the need for dialysis or kidney transplantation,” Issa said.

He said a new class of drugs, SGLT2 inhibitors, is being called a game changer. The drugs were originally designed to treat diabetes — a main cause of chronic kidney disease.

Medicines in the SGLT2 inhibitor class include canagliflozin, dapagliflozin and empagliflozin.

“In large trials, we observed groundbreaking success with those medications in slowing down the progression of chronic kidney disease, to the extent of avoiding dialysis and the need for kidney transplantation,” Issa said.

The medications are used whether the patient is diabetic or not.

ExploreDefinitions of chronic kidney disease need to change, study suggests

“They are actually game changer medications that help us prevent the progression of chronic kidney disease,” Issa said.

You can help yourself by following a low-sodium, moderate-protein diet, avoid smoking and getting plenty of exercise.

Issa said it is important that patients with chronic kidney disease work with their primary care physician and health care team to monitor and check blood pressure, urine analysis and bloodwork.