Content sponsored by AstraZeneca

An estimated 37 million Americans in the United States (US) live with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and its complications. That’s roughly 15 percent of the adult population.1 Despite the high unmet need, innovation has lagged in comparison to other disease areas.

It’s time for that dynamic to change.

Health care providers often refer to CKD as a “silent disease,” because patients frequently experience no symptoms in its early stages. In many cases, it means the disease goes undetected until it has become very advanced, often reaching Stage 4 or 5. In some cases, by the time a patient learns they have CKD, it has already progressed to the point where there is severe loss of kidney function.2

As a patient’s kidney function declines, the risk of complications rises.1 One common complication is hyperkalemia, which is characterized by elevated potassium levels in the blood. When hyperkalemia is not monitored and treated properly, it can worsen and require hospitalization or even become life-threatening.3 People with CKD are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, and almost half of individuals with CKD also have diabetes.2

Clearly, these risks can be serious and significant.

Although hyperkalemia is commonly associated with CKD, other serious complications tend to overshadow the risk hyperkalemia poses for these patients. Perhaps it’s because, until recent years, FDA-approved therapies for managing hyperkalemia had remained unchanged for more than five decades.4

Supported by evidence-based research, clinical practice guidelines recommends the maximum tolerated dose of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system inhibitors (RAASi) for patients with cardiovascular and renal diseases.5 However, RAAS inhibitors can increase both the frequency and severity of hyperkalemia, often prompting healthcare providers to make the decision to reduce the RAASi dosage for patients who have high potassium levels.2 This consideration that healthcare providers face makes additional treatment options to manage hyperkalemia even more important.  

Fortunately, there is growing momentum for a change in how the healthcare community thinks about and treats patients with hyperkalemia, and AstraZeneca is focused on innovating in this space with important developments in potassium management.

We have and continue to invest in research for the development of new medicines— including treatments that may enable doctors to better manage the complications of CKD, like hyperkalemia, and raise awareness so patients can know the risks and take a proactive approach to their care.

By bringing forward a broad portfolio of therapies for the treatment of CKD, we are uniquely positioned to tackle the interconnectedness of diseases and develop approaches that can help treat each patient as a whole, rather than a collection of specific conditions.

Furthermore, we’re pleased to see that this space continues to be recognized by policymakers, particularly with the Advancing American Kidney Health initiative and additional efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services, which has specifically highlighted the need for more innovative therapies. These developments are exciting, especially as they advance efforts to transform kidney care in America.

AstraZeneca’s patient-focused efforts include developing groundbreaking therapies, increasing public awareness of CKD and hyperkalemia and advancing policies that aim to have a lasting impact on this space. Our goal is to help improve patients’ lives by addressing their risks and providing real solutions to meet their needs. Ultimately, our ambition is to one day modify and potentially halt the natural course of these diseases, as well as regenerate and restore function to organs to improve the lives of patients across the US.

Overall, at AstraZeneca we believe that we must continue to support and encourage research and solutions that can make a difference for the millions of patients living with CKD and its complications. As I look ahead, I am more inspired than ever at the future of renal care, and together we can increase awareness of CKD and create the change that is needed to improve the future outlook for patients living with this disease.

References:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Kidney Disease in the United States, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/publications-resources/2019-national-facts.html. Accessed June 19, 2019.
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Anemia in Chronic Kidney Disease. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/anemia. Accessed November 18, 2018.
  3. National Kidney Foundation. Clinical Update on Hyperkalemia. https://www.kidney.org/sites/default/files/02-10-7260%20Clinical%20Bulletin.pdf. Accessed November 18, 2018.
  4. Nassif M, Kosiborod M. New frontiers for management of hyperkalaemia: the emergence of novel agents. Eur Heart J Suppl. 2019;21(Suppl A):A34-A40. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/suy036.
  5. Mentz RJ, Bakris GL, Waeber B, et al. The past, present and future of renin-angiotensin aldosterone system inhibition. Int J Cardiol. 2013;167(5):1677-1687. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2012.10.007.