Press release

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 of long-term control of potassium levels

ROCKVILLE, Md. (May 29, 2019) — 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

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nation’s leading kidney nonprofit. AKF works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. With programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy, no kidney organization impacts more lives than AKF. One of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, AKF invests 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, earning the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 20 years in a row as well as the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly GuideStar.

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