Commitment and Unmet Need
AstraZeneca has established a bold ambition to transform the lives of the estimated 37 million Americans living with chronic kidney disease (CKD) by addressing current gaps across the spectrum of the condition—from earlier diagnosis to late-stage disease. CKD can be a serious, progressive condition defined by decreased kidney function and 9 out of 10 US adults with CKD are unaware they have it.
Contributing to its rate of underdiagnosis, CKD is a silent disease, with most patients experiencing no symptoms until the disease has progressed to advanced stages. Since CKD may be overlooked until symptoms appear at later stages, it’s especially important to be aware of risk factors and serious complications that can occur.
Earlier Diagnosis to Slow Progression
AstraZeneca is committed to increasing earlier CKD diagnosis to help slow disease progression. CKD tends to worsen over time and kidney decline is irreversible—therefore the earlier a patient is diagnosed, the more opportunity for early intervention, which may slow disease progression, preserve kidney function and reduce the risk of complications.
The only way to confirm a patient has CKD is through specific blood and urine tests. One marker of kidney health, included in routine blood work results, is eGFR, or estimated glomerular filtration rate, which is a measure of how well kidneys are filtering waste from the body. An eGFR number of 59-45 mL/min/1.73 m^2 signifies mild to moderate loss of kidney function or stage 3a CKD. Another type of test, albumin-to-creatinine ratio, is a urine test that checks for high protein (albumin) in the urine, which is a sign of kidney damage. It’s important that people with CKD risk factors, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease review their blood work results and talk with their healthcare provider to understand their eGFR number and discuss options to slow CKD progression if appropriate.
AstraZeneca’s ambition is to increase transparency around these lab tests and partner closely with organizations working to advance guidelines to support earlier CKD diagnosis.
Hyperkalemia is a condition associated with CKD
To continue transforming the treatment landscape for CKD, it is important to acknowledge the unmet need for managing associated conditions of late-stage CKD, like hyperkalemia (HK). HK is defined as high potassium levels in the blood and affects up to 40-50% of patients with CKD. In 2014, an estimated 3.7 million US adults were diagnosed with hyperkalemia.
HK can result in serious health issues, including weakness, nausea, paralysis, and heart problems, such as irregular heartbeats, if left unmanaged. For decades, the standard of care for HK management has remained relatively unchanged. HK has traditionally been managed with a low potassium diet or reducing the dose of or discontinuing certain medications that can cause HK and are often used to manage patients with CKD, diabetes, hypertension, or heart failure. However, reducing or discontinuing these medications may lead to suboptimal treatment of these conditions and may not adequately control hyperkalemia.
Doctors now have more treatment options for hyperkalemia, including newer potassium binders. With more options available, patients and their doctors can now discuss various treatment plans to help manage HK.
AstraZeneca also supports a triad of innovation, advocacy, and collaborations to improve the lives of patients with HK. AstraZeneca’s partnership with Renalytix™ involves the application of their KidneyIntelX™ platform, an AI-enabled, invitro, diagnostic solution designed to improve outcomes through earlier identification of previously hidden high-risk patient groups. Through this partnership, studies are being conducted in coordination with the Mount Sinai Health System, where KidneyIntelX™ testing and integrated care management are currently being deployed for commercial clinical use.
Commitment to Supporting Patients Now and the Path Forward
Overall, a commitment to understanding patients and their experiences enables AstraZeneca to continue progressing within the CKD space. Unfiltered Kidney Conversations expresses this commitment by building a community that facilitates open and honest conversations between CKD warriors and their physicians.
AstraZeneca drives its commitment to patients forward by executing on vital research, new policies, and advocacy initiatives that advance innovation and support our partners’ efforts to ensure every person living with CKD can live life to the fullest.