SGLT2 inhibitors

Learn about SGLT2 inhibitors, medicines that help manage blood sugars which doctors can use to treat diabetes, chronic kidney disease (CKD) and heart disease. SGLT2 inhibitors can keep kidney disease from getting worse and lower a person's chance of kidney failure and death.
Medically reviewed by
AKF's Medical Advisory Committee
Last updated
February 12, 2024

SGLT2 inhibitors are medicines that help to lower blood sugar by allowing the kidneys to remove sugar from the body through pee (urine). They also lower the amount of sodium that your kidneys absorb. Reducing the amount of sugar and sodium in the blood lowers the pressure in the small blood vessels in your kidneys to help prevent or slow down kidney damage. These medicines are used to help manage other chronic conditions including diabetes, heart disease and chronic kidney disease.

What are SGLT2 inhibitors? 

SGLT2 (sodium-glucose cotransporter-2) inhibitors also called gliflozins are medicines used to treat type 2 diabetes. They also keep kidney disease and heart disease from getting worse. All SGLT2 inhibitor medicines are taken by mouth. You may recognize SGLT2 inhibitors by names that end in "-gliflozins."  

Currently, there are no generic versions of SGLT2 inhibitors in the U.S.  

Only some SGLT2 inhibitors are FDA-approved to treat people who have CKD or heart failure without type 2 diabetes. Talk to your doctor to see if they recommend an SGLT2 medicine.

How do SGLT2 inhibitors prevent or slow down the damage to my kidneys?

SGLT2 inhibitors improve kidney health because they lower pressure in the small blood vessels of your kidneys. This prevents damage to the inner walls of these blood vessels over time.  

SGLT2 inhibitors work especially well to treat people who have CKD with albuminuria, also called proteinuria. With albuminuria, a protein in the blood called albumin gets into your urine because your kidneys can no longer filter your blood as well. This can lead to kidney failure, heart attack, heart failure, stroke and early death. 

These medicines also help the kidneys because they prevent and treat the two most common causes of CKD: 

  • Heart disease: An SGLT2 inhibitor lowers pressure in the blood vessels of the heart and helps lower dangerously high potassium levels in the blood 
  • Type 2 diabetes: An SGLT2 inhibitor lowers blood sugar by causing your kidneys to remove extra sugar from your body through your urine 

People taking these medicines should also be physically active and eat healthy foods.

What are some common side effects of SGLT2 inhibitors? 

Common side effects of SGLT2 inhibitors are: 

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI) – an infection in the bladder, ureters, or urethra that may cause pain or a burning feeling and can be serious if it spreads to the kidneys 
  • Yeast infection – an infection caused by yeast fungus that shows up in females as itchy, white patches in the vagina and in males as redness and swelling at the head of the penis 
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis, which causes your blood to have more acid 
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) 
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)


It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about medication and medication management questions you have.