Background: Renal disease that progresses to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) imposes a great burden on the affected individual and on society, which mainly bears the cost of ESRD (currently more than $10 billion to treat about 333,000 patients annually in the U.S.). Thus, there is a great need to identify therapies that arrest the progression mechanisms common to all forms of renal disease. Progress is being made. Perhaps the most visible advance is the randomized controlled trials (RCT) demonstrating the renoprotective effects of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. There are also numerous other promising renoprotective therapies. Unfortunately, testing each therapy in RCT is not feasible. Thus the nephrologist has two choices: restrict renoprotective therapy to those shown to be effective in RCT, or expand the use of renoprotective therapies to include those that, although unproven, are plausibly effective and prudent to use. The goal of this work is to provide the documentation needed for the nephrologist to choose between these strategies.
Methods: This work first describes the mechanisms believed to be involved in the progression of renal disease. Based largely on this information, 18 separate interventions that slow the progression are described. Each intervention is assigned a level of recommendation (Level 1 is the highest and Level 3 the lowest) according to the strength of evidence supporting its renoprotective efficacy.
Results: The number of interventions at each level of recommendation are: Level 1, N = 4; Level 2, N = 4; Level 3, N = 10. Our own experience with the multiple-risk-factor intervention is that most patients can achieve the majority of the Level 1 and 2 interventions, and many of the Level 3 interventions. We recommend the expanded renoprotection strategy.
Conclusion: This work advances the hypothesis that, until better information becomes available, a broad-based, multiple-risk-factor intervention intended to slow the progression of renal disease can be justified in those with progressive nephropathies. This work is intended primarily for clinical nephrologists and thus each recommended intervention is described in substantial practical detail.