[Hyperkalemia as a limiting factor in the use of drugs that block the Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone System (RAAS)]

Antonio Santoro, Marcora Mandreoli
Giornale Italiano di Nefrologia: Organo Ufficiale Della Società Italiana di Nefrologia 2018, 35 (3)
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE-I) inhibitors and ARBs have shown real efficacy in reducing blood pressure, proteinuria, in slowing the progression of chronic kidney disease (MRC) and in clinical improvement. in patients with heart failure, diabetes mellitus and ischemic heart disease. However, their use is limited by some side effects such as the increase in serum potassium (K), which can be particularly severe in patients with renal insufficiency. In the 23,000 patients followed by the PIRP project of the Emilia-Romagna Region, hyperkalaemia at the first visit (K> 5.5 mEq / L) was present in about 7% of all patients. The prevalence of K values> 5.5 mEq / L increased in relation to the CKD stage, reaching 11% in patients in stage 4 and 5. Among patients with values of K> 5.5 at baseline, 44.8% were in therapy with ACE-I / ARB inhibitors, 3.8% with anti-mineralcortoid and a further 3.9% concurrently taking SRAA-blocking agents and K-sparing diuretics. Counter-measures to avoid the onset of hyperkalemia during treatment with drugs that block the RAAS range from the low-K diet, to diuretics and finally to drugs that promote fecal elimination of K. Among these, polystyrene sulfonates, which have more than 50 years of life, exchange K with sodium or calcium. These drugs, however, in chronic use, can lead to sodium or calcium overload and cause dangerous intestinal necrosis. Recently two new highly promising drugs have been introduced on the market for the treatment of hyperkalemia, the patiromer and sodium zirconium cyclosilicate. The patiromer, which is a potassium-calcium exchanger, acts at the level of the colon where there is a higher concentration of K and where the drug is most ionized. Sodium zirconium cyclosilicate (ZS-9) is a resin with micropores of well-defined dimensions, placed in the crystalline structure of the zirconium silicate. The trapped K is exchanged with other protons and sodium. However, even these drugs will have to demonstrate their long-term efficacy and safety to be considered true partners of RAAS blockers in some categories of patients.


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