American Kidney Fund and AstraZeneca Announce Campaign to Expand Education and Awareness of Hyperkalemia in Patients with Kidney Disease

Campaign, web content will seek to increase understanding of the importance oflong-term control of potassium levels


Rockville, Md., May 29, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) today announced AstraZeneca as the founding supporter to develop an education and awareness campaign that will aim to increase the understanding of hyperkalemia, or high potassium, a common and potentially life-threatening complication of kidney disease that can cause muscle cramps, nausea, lethargy, trouble breathing, irregular heartbeats and heart attacks.

AstraZeneca’s commitment also will help underwrite AKF educational content about nutrition and limiting high-potassium foods. A diet low in potassium is recommended for patients with kidney disease, who may also need to take medication to keep their potassium near recommended levels.

“For patients dealing with the complications of kidney disease, including hyperkalemia, navigating the complex relationship between diet and medication is challenging,” said LaVarne A. Burton, president and chief executive officer of the American Kidney Fund. “We are extraordinarily grateful to AstraZeneca for its partnership in working with us to empower patients with the knowledge they need to have the best possible health outcomes.”

“AstraZeneca is proud to partner with the American Kidney Fund on this important effort to increase awareness and understanding of chronic kidney disease and its associated complications,” said Tony Silfani, PhD, executive director, U.S. head of marketing, renal at AstraZeneca. “Today, there is a limited level of understanding of the role potassium can play in the body and its potential dangers for those with kidney or cardiovascular conditions, and we believe this initiative aligns with our commitment to advance this critical dialogue in the renal community.”

Potassium, which is essential to the proper function of muscles and nerves, is kept in balance by healthy kidneys. Hyperkalemia, or high levels or potassium in the blood, is common in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD or kidney failure). Their risk for hyperkalemia is increased because of their kidneys’ diminished ability to filter potassium out of the blood stream.

Studies suggest that more than a third of CKD patients have hyperkalemia. AKF’s educational initiative will seek to improve understanding of the serious and chronic nature of the condition so patients feel empowered to proactively manage it.

Among dialysis patients, 1 in 4 emergency dialysis sessions is caused by hyperkalemia.

In 2018, AKF released the results of a nationwide survey of dialysis patients and renal professionals that identified barriers to adherence to treatment. AKF found that more than half of patients reported they had not followed their dietary and fluid recommendations in the previous week, and nearly a quarter had skipped or missed at least one medication dose.

AKF has used the survey findings to inform the development of new tools and content to support kidney patients in sticking to their challenging treatment regimens. Initiatives have included expanded website content, educational materials for patients and providers, and a focus on adherence barriers in AKF’s monthly webinars which are available for viewing on-demand.


About the American Kidney Fund

As the nation’s leading independent nonprofit working on behalf of the 30 million Americans with kidney disease, the American Kidney Fund is dedicated to ensuring that every kidney patient has access to health care, and that every person at risk for kidney disease is empowered to prevent it. AKF provides a complete spectrum of programs and services: prevention outreach, top-rated health educational resources, and direct financial assistance enabling low-income U.S. dialysis and transplant patients to access lifesaving medical care. AKF holds the highest ratings from the nation’s charity watchdog groups, including Charity Navigator, which includes AKF on its “top 10” list of nonprofits with the longest track records of outstanding stewardship of the donated dollar, and GuideStar, which has awarded AKF its Platinum Seal of Transparency.

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