A person undergoing dialysis

If you take a common type 2 diabetes medication, may be more protected from kidney disease than you’d think, according to a newly released paper.

A team studied four research papers which had assessed how three SGLT2 inhibitors (empagliflozin, canagliflozin and dapagliflozin) impacted kidney disease risk among individuals with type 2 diabetes.

The team gathered evidence from 4 trials and completed a systematic review and meta-analysis to document the impact SGLT2 inhibitors had on the occurrence of kidney failure in type 2 diabetes. In particular on four different health outcomes relating to the kidneys: kidney failure, transplants, a need for dialysis, and death as a result of kidney disease.

In 2010, approximately 2.6 million people received dialysis or underwent a kidney transplantation as a result of kidney failure.

Kidney problems are a particular risk for people with diabetes due to the effect the condition can have on the small blood vessels in the kidneys. Statistically, around 40% of people with diabetes develop kidney disease.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are currently conventional treatments for major adverse kidney outcomes in people with diabetes. However, prevention instead of cure is always more effective.

SGLT2 inhibitors help reduce blood sugar levels, blood pressure and bodyweight. The drugs also help to lower albumin, a protein in the blood which is a sign of kidney disease.

The studies involved a total of 38,723 participants, out of which 252 people were affected by one of the four health outcomes observed by the study.

A further 335 of the participants developed end-stage kidney disease, and 943 developed acute kidney injury.

The researchers said: “SGLT2 inhibitors reduced the risk of dialysis, transplantation, or death due to kidney disease in individuals with type 2 diabetes and provided protection against acute kidney injury. These data provide substantive evidence supporting the use of SGLT2 inhibitors to prevent major kidney outcomes in people with type 2 diabetes.”

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