New guidelines address diabetes management in kidney disease


A new guideline from the Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes group addressing issues around diabetes management in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) has just been published in synopsis form in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The full guideline, including 12 recommendations and 48 practice points for clinicians caring for patients with diabetes and CKD, was published last month in Kidney International and on the KDIGO website.

More than 40% of people with diabetes develop CKD, and a significant number develop kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant. This is the first guidance from KDIGO to address the comorbidity.

The new synopsis is aimed at primary care and nonnephrology specialist clinicians who manage patients with diabetes and CKD, in addition to nephrologists, first author Sankar D. Navaneethan, MD, said in an interview.

“Most of these patients are in the hands of primary care, endocrinology, and cardiology. We want to emphasize when they see patients with different severities of kidney disease [is] what are some of the things they have to be cognizant of,” said Dr. Navaneethan, professor of medicine and director of clinical research in the section of nephrology at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.

The synopsis summarizes key recommendations from the larger guidance regarding comprehensive care needs, glycemic monitoring and targets, lifestyle interventions, glucose-lowering therapies, and educational/integrated care approaches.

It does not depart from prior diabetes guidelines, but it does provide advice for specific situations relevant to CKD, such as the limitations of hemoglobin A1c when estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) drops below 30 mL/min per 1.73m2, and dietary protein consumption. It is based on published evidence up until February 2020.

For the nephrologist audience in particular, Dr. Navaneethan said, “we wanted to highlight team-based care, interacting with other specialists and working with them.”

“We [nephrologists] are more used to team-based care in dialysis patients. ... So we wanted to highlight that self-management programs and team-based care are important for empowering patients.”

“As nephrologists, we might not be comfortable starting patients on an SGLT2 [sodium-glucose cotransporter 2] inhibitor. We may need to reach out to our endocrinology or primary care colleagues and learn from them,” he explained.

RAS inhibitor use, smoking cessation, glycemic targets

Under “comprehensive care,” the guideline panel recommends treatment with an ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin II receptor blocker – renin-angiotensin system (RAS) blockade – for patients with diabetes, hypertension, and albuminuria (albumin-creatinine ratio >30 mg/g).

These medications should be titrated to the highest approved tolerated dose, with close monitoring of serum potassium and serum creatinine levels within 2-4 weeks of initiation or change in dose.

The document guides clinicians on that monitoring, as well as on RAS blockade use in patient subgroups, use of alternative agents, and mitigation of adverse effects.

Patients with diabetes and CKD who use tobacco should be advised to quit.

The group recommended A1c to monitor glycemic control in patients with diabetes and CKD not receiving dialysis.

However, when eGFR is below 30 mL/min per 1.73m2, A1c levels tend to be lower because of shortened erythrocyte lifespan, which interpretation should take into account. Continuous glucose monitoring can be used as an alternative because it is not affected by CKD.

Glycemic targets should be individualized depending on hypoglycemia risk, ranging from 6.5% to 8.0% for A1c or time in range of 70-180 mg/dL for continuous glucose monitoring readings.


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