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Medication for Kidney Disease

Doctors at NYU Langone prescribe medication to treat adults diagnosed with kidney disease and to manage underlying conditions, such as hypertension, or high blood pressure. Medications may also be used to reduce phosphorus levels in the blood and manage anemia, a deficiency in red blood cells.

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Your doctor may prescribe an antihypertensive, a medication that lowers blood pressure, to slow the progression of kidney disease. High blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the kidneys, affecting their ability to function. Antihypertensives help dilate, or widen, blood vessels, reducing blood pressure.

Your doctor may prescribe a type of antihypertensive called an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, which helps to increase blood flow and slow kidney damage, particularly in people who have diabetes. Sometimes doctors prescribe angiotensin II receptor blockers, which help relax and widen blood vessels and reduce salt and water retention.

Both types of antihypertensives can reduce the amount of protein leaking into urine due to damaged kidneys.

Phosphorus Binders

Phosphorus binders reduce the amount of phosphorus the body absorbs from food. Phosphorus is a mineral that, along with calcium, helps form strong bones.

People with diets high in prepared foods, such as processed meats and colas, frequently consume excess phosphorus, which may not be filtered from the body if the kidneys are damaged. This can cause calcium to be leached from the bones, weakening them. Phosphorus can also increase the levels of a hormone associated with a serious heart condition, called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, in people who have kidney failure.

These medications are taken by mouth, up to 15 minutes before or after eating meals or snacks. They cause excess phosphorus to be removed from the body in the stool.

Synthetic Erythropoietin

Your doctor may prescribe synthetic erythropoietin to manage anemia. Like erythropoietin, a hormone produced by healthy kidneys, this medication stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells.

Our Research and Education in Kidney Disease

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