Part 4: Monitoring for CKD in Diabetes Patients

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Previously, we discussed assessment and treatment for dyslipidemia in patients with diabetes. Now we’ll explore how to monitor for kidney disease in this population.


Mr. W’s basic metabolic panel includes an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) of 55 ml/min/1.73 m2 (reference range, > 60 ml/min/1.73 m2). In the absence of any other markers of kidney disease, you obtain a spot urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR). The UACR results show a ratio of 64 mg/g, confirming stage 3 chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Monitoring for Chronic Kidney Disease

CKD is characterized by persistent albuminuria, low eGFR, and manifestations of kidney damage, and it increases cardiovascular risk.2 According to the ADA, clinicians should obtain a UACR and eGFR at least annually in patients who have had type 1 diabetes for at least 5 years and in all patients with type 2 diabetes.2 Monitoring is needed twice a year for those who begin to show signs of albuminuria or a reduced eGFR. This helps define the presence or stage of CKD and allows for further treatment planning.

Notably, patients with an eGFR < 30 ml/min/1.73m2, an unclear cause of kidney disease, or signs of rapidly progressive disease (eg, decline in GFR category plus ≥ 25% decline in eGFR from baseline) should be seen by nephrology for further evaluation and treatment recommendations.2,36

Diabetes medications for kidney health. Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists may be good candidates to promote kidney health in patients such as Mr. W. Recent trials show that SGLT2 inhibitors reduce the risk for progressive diabetic kidney disease, and the ADA recommends these medications for patients with CKD.2,16,36 GLP-1 receptor agonists also may be associated with a lower rate of development and progression of diabetic kidney disease, but this effect appears to be less robust.7,15,16 ADA guidelines recommend SGLT2 inhibitors for patients whose eGFR is adequate.37

ADA and AACE guidelines offer specific treatment recommendations on the use of SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists in the management of diabetes.10,37 Note that neither SGLT2 inhibitors nor GLP-1 agonists are strictly under the purview of endocrinologists. Rather, multiple guidelines state that they can be utilized safely by a variety of practitioners.6,38,39

In the concluding part of this series, we will explore how to screen for peripheral neuropathy and diabetic retinopathy—identification of which can improve the patient’s quality of life.

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