Diabetic Kidney Disease: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

Kathryn McGrath, Rina Edi
American Family Physician 2019 June 15, 99 (12): 751-759
Globally, approximately 20% of the 400 million individuals with diabetes mellitus have diabetic kidney disease (DKD). DKD is associated with higher cardiovascular and all-cause morbidity and mortality, so timely diagnosis and treatment are critical. Screening for early DKD is best done with annual spot urine albumin/creatinine ratio testing, and diagnosis is confirmed by repeated elevation in urinary albumin excretion. Treatment includes management of hyperglycemia, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and cessation of tobacco use. Multiple antihyperglycemic medications, including sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors, glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, and dipeptidyl-peptidase-4 inhibitors, may help prevent DKD by lowering blood glucose levels and through intrinsic renal protection. Blood pressure should be monitored at every clinical visit and maintained at less than 140/90 mm Hg to prevent microvascular changes. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers prevent progression of DKD and may decrease albuminuria. Statin therapy should be considered for all patients with DKD, and tobacco cessation reduces the risk of DKD. Given the complexity of the disease and the risk of poor outcomes, patients who progress to stage 3 DKD or beyond may benefit from referral to nephrology subspecialists.

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