Potential New Agents for the Management of Hyperkalemia

David K Packham, Mikhail Kosiborod
American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs: Drugs, Devices, and Other Interventions 2016, 16 (1): 19-31
Hyperkalemia is a common electrolyte disturbance with multiple potential etiologies. It is usually observed in the setting of reduced renal function. Mild to moderate hyperkalemia is usually asymptomatic, but is associated with poor prognosis. When severe, hyperkalemia may cause serious acute cardiac arrhythmias and conduction abnormalities, and may result in sudden death. The rising prevalence of conditions associated with hyperkalemia (heart failure, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes) and broad use of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) inhibitors and mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists (MRAs), which improve patient outcomes but increase the risk of hyperkalemia, have led to a significant rise in hyperkalemia-related hospitalizations and deaths. Current non-invasive therapies for hyperkalemia either do not remove excess potassium or have poor efficacy and tolerability. There is a clear need for safer, more effective potassium-lowering therapies suitable for both acute and chronic settings. Patiromer sorbitex calcium and sodium zirconium cyclosilicate (ZS-9) are two new potassium-lowering compounds currently in development. Although they have not yet been approved by the US FDA, both have demonstrated efficacy and safety in recent trials. Patiromer sorbitex calcium is a polymer resin and sorbitol complex that binds potassium in exchange for calcium; ZS-9, a non-absorbed, highly selective inorganic cation exchanger, traps potassium in exchange for sodium and hydrogen. This review discusses the merits of both novel drugs and how they may help optimize the future management of patients with hyperkalemia.

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