A practical approach to the management of patients with chronic renal failure

Mayo Clin Proc. 1999 Mar;74(3):269-73. doi: 10.4065/74.3.269.


The number of patients with significant chronic renal failure is expanding rapidly in the United States. All physicians and medical-care providers will have an increasingly important role in the detection and management of renal failure in patients who are not undergoing dialysis. Patients with diabetes or hypertension should be carefully monitored for the development of renal insufficiency by using screening tools such as blood pressure measurement, determination of serum creatinine, urinalysis, and determination of 24-hour urinary microalbuminuria. In order to slow the progression of renal disease, attenuate uremic complications, and prepare patients with renal failure for renal replacement therapy, all medical-care providers should "take care of the BEANS." Blood pressure should be maintained in a target range lower than 130/85 mm Hg, and in many patients, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors may be beneficial. Erythropoietin should be used to maintain the hemoglobin level at 10 to 12 g/dL. Access for long-term dialysis should be created when the serum creatinine value increases above 4.0 mg/dL or the glomerular filtration rate declines below 20 mL/min. Nutritional status must be closely monitored in order to avoid protein malnutrition and to initiate dialysis before the patient's nutritional status has deteriorated. Nutritional care also involves correction of acidosis, prevention and treatment of hyperphosphatemia, and administration of vitamin supplements to provide folic acid. Specialty referral to nephrology should occur when the creatinine level increases above 3.0 mg/dL or when the involvement of a nephrologist would be beneficial for ongoing management of the patient.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arteriovenous Shunt, Surgical
  • Blood Pressure
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / blood
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Nephrology
  • Nutritional Status
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Renal Dialysis* / adverse effects
  • Renal Dialysis* / methods


  • Hemoglobins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin
  • Creatinine