Drugs & Aging

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 419–435

Prevention and Treatment of Diabetic Nephropathy in Older Patients

  • Eckart Jungmann
Therapy in Practice


Renal disease in older diabetic patients is costly in terms of morbidity, mortality and expenditure. Therefore, prevention and treatment of diabetic nephropathy has become a prominent goal in the treatment of patients with diabetes mellitus. Preventive treatment should begin no later than at the stage of microalbuminuria, and regular screening for microalbuminuria is recommended for all patients with diabetes, irrespective of age.

Improved metabolic control has been demonstrated to lower urinary albumin excretion. Target glycosylated haemoglobin levels should be below 7%, or 1% above the upper limit of normal of non-diabetic subjects. The use of an intensified treatment regimen is recommended. Insulin therapy has no adverse effects on renal indexes.

To preserve renal function in older diabetic patients, blood pressure should be kept at or below 130/80mm Hg. Treatment with ACE inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor antagonists (angiotensin II receptor blockers; ARBs) is superior to other pharmacological therapy, and should be initiated as first-line treatment. Most of the calcium channel antagonists have been found to increase or to have no effect on microalbuminuria despite blood pressure reduction. Moreover, there is substantial controversy as to whether they may be associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity. Non-dihydropyridine derivatives and calcium channel antagonists, such as nitrendipine, may be nephroprotective and have favourable effects on patients outcomes.

A renoprotective action of diuretics may be confined to indapamide. Although β-adrenoreceptor blockers are effective antihypertensive agents, they may not adequately preserve kidney function in older diabetic patients. However, as add-on treatment to ACE inhibitors or ARBs, they are particularly beneficial in nephropathic patients at risk of cardiovascular disease or with arrhythmias, in whom they may prove life-saving.

Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eckart Jungmann
    • 1
  1. 1.St. Vincent’s Hospital WiedenbrückRheda-WiedenbrückGermany

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