Managing progressive renal disease before dialysis

Can Fam Physician. 1999 Apr;45:977-84.


Objective: To enhance awareness of issues affecting patients with chronic renal failure and to provide guidance for primary care practitioners managing such patients.

Quality of evidence: Randomized trials establish the efficacy of blood pressure control and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition in slowing the progression of chronic renal disease. Some randomized trials and many prospective studies address management of anemia, hyperparathyroidism, and multidisciplinary predialysis care. The benefits of lipid lowering are suggested by randomized trials among patients without renal disease.

Main message: Progression of renal failure, particularly in patients with proteinuria, can be slowed by lowering blood pressure. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors are more beneficial than other antihypertensives in this situation. Partial correction of anemia with iron, erythropoietin, or androgens can improve quality of life and potentially prevent cardiac disease. Renal bone disease and secondary hyperparathyroidism can be prevented in part by early dietary phosphate restriction, use of calcium-containing phosphate binders, and activated vitamin D. Correction of acidosis could improve protein metabolism and bone and cardiovascular health. Treatment of hyperlipidemia might reduce cardiovascular disease. Early involvement of a nephrology-based multidisciplinary team has the potential to reduce morbidity and costs, enhance patients' knowledge of their condition, and prolong the period before dialysis is required.

Conclusions: Care of patients with progressive renal failure is complex and requires attention to detail. Family doctors play a vital role in these efforts and should be involved in all aspects of care.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Proteinuria / prevention & control
  • Renal Dialysis


  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors