Advances in the management of hyperkalemia in chronic kidney disease

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Purpose of review

Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have an increased risk of hyperkalemia that increases both short-term and long-term mortality. Historically, managing hyperkalemia has relied upon dietary modifications, augmentation of urinary potassium excretion and enhanced enteral potassium elimination. This review discusses current treatments and their limitations and summarizes the evidence supporting novel agents for potassium lowering in patients with CKD.

Recent findings

The introduction of two novel ion exchange resins represents the first new pharmacologic therapies for hyperkalemia in the last 50 years. Patiromer, which was recently approved for use in the United States, has been shown to be well tolerated and effective for decreasing serum potassium in patients with CKD when taken for up to a year. Sodium zirconium cyclosilicate for which approval is pending has also shown promise in treating both acute and chronic hyperkalemia in patients with CKD. Both medications have been well tolerated with minimal adverse events in relatively short-term follow-up.


Novel ion exchange resins have the potential to provide new strategies for safely and effectively managing hyperkalemia in the CKD population. This may decrease morbidity and mortality associated with hyperkalemia and allow more broad use of medications whose use is otherwise limited by hyperkalemia.

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