According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, “your kidneys filter extra water and wastes out of your blood and make urine. Your kidneys also help control blood pressure so that your body can stay healthy. Kidney disease means that the kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood like they should. This damage can cause wastes to build up in the body. It can also cause other problems that can harm your health.”
Kidney disease should be of a growing concern with more than 20 million Americans potentially having the disease and much more at risk. However, a new treatment plan for people suffering from polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is making life more bearable and slowing down the effects of the disease according to the Kidney Foundation.
Polycystic kidney disease is the most common form of inherited kidney disease. PKD causes progressive cysts on the kidneys, enlarging them slowly, leading the patient to need dialysis until they must have their kidneys removed and undergo a transplant surgery. But thanks to the release of a new drug and new treatment plan, the future of kidney patients across the globe are looking much brighter.
The drug is called Tolvaptan (commonly referred to as Jinarc), and it prevents cysts from growing quickly by blocking receptors that help reabsorb water, ultimately protecting kidney function. And the treatment – which had a Canadian-wide consultation with patients and specialists – focuses on things like genetic testing, diagnostic imaging, predicting risk and drug treatment options.
This is a “big jump forward” for those living PKD, according to Dr. Louis Girard who co-authored the paper “Canadian Expert Consensus” detailing the treatment plan.
“Before we didn’t have a lot to offer for patients with PKD,” he said. “Now, for a proportion of them, we have an opportunity to try and delay the progression of kidney disease.”
Dr. Girard, who is also a clinical associate professor at the University of Calgary, said the new drug was an opportunity for doctors to look at the disease and see how they could provide better care.
“We weren’t doing a good service for our patients before and now we’ve published these consensus recommendations, and the new treatment is a small part of it but it made us look at how we could improve our care for our patients,” he said.
So what is the goal of all this? According to Girard, the main message is that kidney specialists need to see those suffering from the disease so that they can apply what they’ve learned, and continue to understand how to better support those with PKD.