According to a recent study published in JAMA, a new drug can significantly lower the potassium levels in patients with kidney disease and diabetes—a significant find since high levels of potassium in the blood (hyperkalemia) can be deadly for these patients.
Researchers randomly assigned 306 patients to the drug patiromer—an orally administered drug that participants took twice a day for eight weeks. All patients were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and hyperkalemia; they also received renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) inhibitors, typically prescribed to slow the progression of renal disease, before and during the study’s duration.
The research team, led by Dr. George L. Bakris of the University of Chicago Medicine, began observing the patients for unpleasant events four weeks after the study began. They continued their observations up until week 52.
Each patient received one of three different starter doses of patiromer, from 8.4 grams to 33.6 grams each day. After the first four weeks, researchers discovered there was a reduction in potassium levels; for the duration of the 52-week study, potassium levels were maintained at a normal level.
Researchers stated that 20% of participants experienced unpleasant events because of the drug. The most notable events were low levels of magnesium (seven percent), mild constipation (six percent), and abnormally low levels of potassium (six percent).
Researchers concluded that more research is needed, but if patiromer becomes widely available, it could represent a new and effective approach to treat hyperkalemia.
Source for Today’s Article:
McIntosh, J. “New drug could improve potassium levels of diabetic kidney disease patients,” Medical News Today web site, July 15, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/296694.php.