Folate may boost efficacy of drugs for kidney disease

  • Chronic kidney disease is an insidious condition where the kidneys fail over time.1
  • ACE inhibitors are one of the treatments for chronic kidney disease. An example of this class of drugs is Vasotec (enalapril).2
  • A study found that folate boosted the efficacy of Vasotec when they were taken together.3

Chronic kidney disease is where the kidneys gradually fails over time. Left unchecked, it eventually progresses to kidney failure requiring regular dialysis. The risk of chronic kidney disease goes up after the age of 50.1

To treat chronic kidney disease, one option is called an angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor. ACE inhibitors may slow the decline of kidney function over time. One example of an ACE inhibitor is Vasotec, but there are many similar medications.2,4

If you or a loved one is taking Vasotec, your doctor may find that it’s not doing enough, or that you may want to take less of it. Now, there is evidence that adding folate to Vasotec treatment may help it work better than taking Vasotec alone.3

In a study of over 15,000 people aged between 45 and 75 years, folate supplement 0.8 mg/day plus Vasotec reduced the risk of their kidney disease becoming worse by 21% vs. Vasotec alone.3

The speed at which their kidney function declined was also significantly slowed by about 10% a year with folate + Vasotec vs. Vasotec alone.3

It’s important to note that this effect was mostly seen in people who already had chronic kidney diseases before entering the study. Folate intake plus Vasotec did not prevent the onset of chronic kidney disease in people who didn’t have it before the study.3

Bottom line

  • Since folate + Vasotec may be better than Vasotec alone, some people may be able to reduce their Vasotec dosage without compromising their treatment.
  • Results of this study may potentially extend beyond Vasotec to apply to other ACE inhibitors as well.
  • If you or a loved one is taking an ACE inhibitor like Vasotec for chronic kidney disease, ask your doctor if taking folate may help.
  • This study also comes on the heels of the main study, which showed that folate + Vasotec significantly reduced the risk of stroke and high blood pressure vs. Vasotec alone.

Source study: Xu X, et al. JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 22, 2016. A paid subscription may be required.

References: 1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National chronic kidney disease fact sheet 2014. Available at: Accessed on November 8, 2016. 2. Enalapril Prescribing Information, 2015. 3. Xu X, et al. JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 22, 2016. 4. Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) CKD Work Group. KDIGO 2012 Clinical Practice Guideline for the Evaluation and Management of Chronic Kidney Disease. Kidney inter., Suppl. 2013; 3: 1-150.

Photo adapted from original by ccharmon, used under license.

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