Drug management in the elderly adult with chronic kidney disease: A review for the primary care physician

Claudio Ponticelli, Gabriele Sala, Richard J. Glassock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With advancing age, the functional reserve of many organs tends to decrease. In particular, the lean body mass, the levels of serum albumin, the blood flow to the liver, and the glomerular filtration rate are reduced in elderly individuals and can be further impaired by the concomitant presence of acute or chronic kidney disease. Moreover, patients with kidney disease are often affected by comorbid processes and are prescribed multiple medications. The aging process also modifies some drug interactions, including the affinity of some drugs for their receptor, the number of receptors, and the cell responses upon receptor activation. Therefore, older patients with kidney disease are particularly susceptible to the risks of adverse drug reactions. Planning a pharmacological regimen in such patients is confounded by the paucity of information available on the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles of a large number of drugs commonly used in this group of patients. Finally, many aged patients suffer from unintentional poor compliance. In this review, the problems physicians face in designing safe and effective medication management in elderly individuals are discussed, paying attention to those more frequently used, which may be potentially harmful in patients with kidney disease. The risks of overdosing and underdosing are outlined, and some recommendations to reduce the risk of adverse drug reactions are provided. A review of the literature covering the field of drug management in older patients with kidney disease was performed by selecting those articles published between January 1, 1990, and December 1, 2014, using PubMed as a search engine with the keywords elderly, kidney disease, drugs, drug interaction, and renal function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-645
Number of pages13
JournalMayo Clinic Proceedings
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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