The value of maintaining normokalaemia and enabling RAASi therapy in chronic kidney disease

BMC Nephrol. 2019 Jan 31;20(1):31. doi: 10.1186/s12882-019-1228-y.


Background: People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at an increased risk of developing hyperkalaemia due to their declining kidney function. In addition, these patients are often required to reduce or discontinue guideline-recommended renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system inhibitor (RAASi) therapy due to increased risk of hyperkalaemia. This original research developed a model to quantify the health and economic benefits of maintaining normokalaemia and enabling optimal RAASi therapy in patients with CKD.

Methods: A patient-level simulation model was designed to fully characterise the natural history of CKD over a lifetime horizon, and predict the associations between serum potassium levels, RAASi use and long-term outcomes based on published literature. The clinical and economic benefits of maintaining sustained potassium levels and therefore avoiding RAASi discontinuation in CKD patients were demonstrated using illustrative, sensitivity and scenario analyses.

Results: Internal and external validation exercises confirmed the predictive capability of the model. Sustained potassium management and ongoing RAASi therapy were associated with longer life expectancy (+ 2.36 years), delayed onset of end stage renal disease (+ 5.4 years), quality-adjusted life-year gains (+ 1.02 QALYs), cost savings (£3135) and associated net monetary benefit (£23,446 at £20,000 per QALY gained) compared to an absence of RAASi to prevent hyperkalaemia.

Conclusion: This model represents a novel approach to predicting the long-term benefits of maintaining normokalaemia and enabling optimal RAASi therapy in patients with CKD, irrespective of the strategy used to achieve this target, which may support decision making in healthcare.

Keywords: Chronic kidney disease; Economic modelling; Potassium, Hyperkalaemia; Renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system inhibitor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers / adverse effects
  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers / therapeutic use*
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Cost Savings
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperkalemia / chemically induced
  • Hyperkalemia / economics
  • Hyperkalemia / etiology
  • Hyperkalemia / prevention & control*
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Potassium / blood*
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / blood
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / economics
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / therapy
  • Renin-Angiotensin System / drug effects*


  • Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor Blockers
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Potassium