Adherence to guidelines for creatinine and potassium monitoring and discontinuation following renin-angiotensin system blockade: a UK general practice-based cohort study.

Schmidt, M. ; Mansfield, K.E. ; Bhaskaran, K. ; Nitsch, D. ; Sørensen, H.T. ; Smeeth, L. ; Tomlinson, L.A. ;
Adherence to guidelines for creatinine and potassium monitoring and discontinuation following renin-angiotensin system blockade: a UK general practice-based cohort study.
BMJ Open, 2017; 7(1):e012818

To examine adherence to serum creatinine and potassium monitoring and discontinuation guidelines following initiation of treatment with ACE inhibitors (ACEI) or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs); and whether high-risk patients are monitored.

A general practice-based cohort study using electronic health records from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink and Hospital Episode Statistics.

UK primary care, 2004-2014.

223 814 new ACEI/ARB users.

Proportion of patients with renal function monitoring before and after ACEI/ARB initiation; creatinine increase ≥30% or potassium levels >6 mmol/L at first follow-up monitoring; and treatment discontinuation after such changes. Using logistic regression models, we also examined patient characteristics associated with these biochemical changes, and with follow-up monitoring within the guideline recommendation of 2 weeks after treatment initiation.

10% of patients had neither baseline nor follow-up monitoring of creatinine within 12 months before and 2 months after initiation of an ACEI/ARB, 28% had monitoring only at baseline, 15% only at follow-up, and 47% both at baseline and follow-up. The median period between the most recent baseline monitoring and drug initiation was 40 days (IQR 12-125 days). 34% of patients had baseline creatinine monitoring within 1 month before initiating therapy, but <10% also had the guideline-recommended follow-up test recorded within 2 weeks. Among patients experiencing a creatinine increase ≥30% (n=567, 1.2%) or potassium level >6 mmol/L (n=191, 0.4%), 80% continued treatment. Although patients with prior myocardial infarction, hypertension or baseline potassium >5 mmol/L were at high risk of ≥30% increase in creatinine after ACEI/ARB initiation, there was no evidence that they were more frequently monitored.

Only one-tenth of patients initiating ACEI/ARB therapy receive the guideline-recommended creatinine monitoring. Moreover, the vast majority of the patients fulfilling postinitiation discontinuation criteria for creatinine and potassium increases continue on treatment.