Dapagliflozin Reduces Hospitalizations in Patients With CKD

Will Pass

December 07, 2022

The sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor dapagliflozin significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization among patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), a new study finds.

These findings add to a growing body of evidence supporting a range of positive benefits from dapagliflozin, including reduced risks of mortality, cardiovascular events, and kidney events, lead author Meir Schechter, MD, PhD, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and colleagues wrote in Annals of Internal Medicine. "Although cardiovascular and kidney outcomes with SGLT2 inhibitors have been studied extensively, there is a paucity of data evaluating the effects of SGLT2 inhibitors on hospitalizations for any cause."

The findings are based on a post hoc analysis of the DAPA-CKD trial, which involved 4,304 patients with CKD in 21 countries. Patients were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive dapagliflozin 10 mg orally once a day or matching placebo. The present analysis quantified first hospitalizations for any cause, all hospitalizations, cause-specific hospitalizations, and several related outcomes.

After a median follow-up of 2.4 years, 28% of the population had been hospitalized a total of 2,072 times.

Compared with placebo, dapagliflozin significantly reduced risk of first hospitalization by 16% (hazard ratio, 0.84; 95% confidence interval, 0.75-0.94) and rate of all hospitalizations by 21% (rate ratio, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.70-0.89). These findings remained significant regardless of type 2 diabetes status, with significant benefits seen across reasons for admission, including renal/urinary disorders, cardiac disorders, neoplasms, and metabolism/nutrition disorders. In addition, dapagliflozin was associated with shorter mean time in hospital (2.3 vs. 2.8 days; P = .027) and longer time alive and out of hospital (354.9 vs. 351.7; P = .023).

"These findings highlight additional benefits of dapagliflozin beyond those seen for cardiovascular and kidney events, all-cause and cause-specific mortality, eGFR [estimated glomerular filtration rate] slope, and albuminuria and should be considered when evaluating the totality of evidence favoring provision of dapagliflozin to patients with CKD," the investigators concluded.

Positive Data, Positive Experience

Shree Mulay, MD, a nephrologist in private practice in western Tennessee, said this study is "one of several other articles that already exist" demonstrating the broad benefits of SGLT2 inhibitors.

"The evidence is pretty substantial," Mulay said in an interview. "I think SGLT2 inhibitors are the new statin of this era. ... I won't be surprised if in the next year or 2 or 3 they truly become the standard of care."

Mulay also speaks from experience working in both the chronic and acute setting, where he's observed "some magical stuff happening" in patients started on SGLT2 inhibitors, especially those in heart failure who are fluid overloaded.

"It's phenomenal stuff," Mulay said. "You can really stabilize patients' hemodynamics."

In the private health care setting, he described widespread enthusiasm among nephrologists, although others still appear skeptical.

"It's really our cardiology colleagues that I feel are underprescribing it," Mulay said. "So, I'm kind of taking it on myself, when I see a heart failure patient, to go ahead and put them on this."

It's unclear why some cardiologists seem apprehensive, Mulay continued, although he suggested that unclear guidelines and a lack of first-hand experience may be to blame.

Nephrologists and Cardiologists Sometimes Agree

In the academic arena, Leslie Gewin, MD, associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis and the John Cochran VA Hospital, also in St. Louis, has seen similar support for SGLT2 inhibitors among both nephrologists and cardiologists.

"We had a joint nephrology-cardiology medicine grand rounds at Wash U in St. Louis maybe 2 weeks ago," Gewin said in an interview. "The cardiologists and nephrologists tag-teamed to present data about SGLT2 inhibitors, and we kind of joked that this was the one thing we both could get behind and support."

Still, she has seen some reluctance among non-nephrology clinicians lacking SGLT2 experience, specifically when managing patients who have poor kidney function.

"There can be some hesitancy among physicians if the GFR is low," Gewin said. "That's where I've had to sort of push the envelope with non-nephrologists, saying: 'Look, we feel pretty comfortable starting down to a GFR of about 20.' "

Early rises in creatinine may also spook providers, she noted.

"Sometimes, when we start SGLT2 inhibitors, the creatinine increases slightly, and the [primary care provider] gets concerned," Gewin said. "We say: 'No, this is expected. Don't worry, hold the course, this is a good drug.' "

Like Mulay, Gewin said the present study offers further encouragement for the efficacy of this drug class. She also said sufficient data have been published to allay earlier concerns about potential safety signals, such as bone fractures and amputations.

"SGLT2 inhibitors seem to be a lot safer than what we initially had thought," Gewin said. "That's very encouraging."

The study was funded by AstraZeneca. The investigators disclosed additional relationships with Bayer, Janssen, Gilead, and others. Gewin and Mulay disclosed no relevant conflicts of interest.

This story originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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