The DAPA-CKD trial results, which proved dapagliflozin’s efficacy for slowing chronic kidney disease progression in patients selected for signs of worsening renal function, also have important messages for cardiologists, especially heart failure physicians.
Those messages include findings that were “consistent” with the results of the earlier DAPA-HF trial, which tested the same sodium-glucose transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor in patients selected for having heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). In addition, a specific action of dapagliflozin (Farxiga) on the patients in DAPA-CKD, which enrolled patients based on markers of chronic kidney disease (CKD), was prevention of first and recurrent heart failure hospitalizations, John J.V. McMurray, MD, said at the virtual annual scientific meeting of the Heart Failure Society of America, further highlighting the role that dapagliflozin has in reducing both heart failure and renal events.
What DAPA-CKD means for heart failure
The main findings from the DAPA-CKD trial, published in September in the New England Journal of Medicine, included as a secondary outcome the combined rate of death from cardiovascular causes or hospitalization for heart failure (HHF). Treatment with dapagliflozin linked with a significant 29% relative reduction in this endpoint, compared with placebo-treated patients. At the HFSA meeting, Dr. McMurray reported for the first time the specific HHF numbers, a prespecified secondary endpoint for the study.
Patients on dapagliflozin had 37 total HHF events (1.7%), including both first-time and subsequent hospitalizations, while patients in the placebo arm had a total of 71 HHF events (3.3%) during the study’s median 2.4 years of follow-up, an absolute reduction of 1.6% that translated into a relative risk reduction of 49%.
The HHF findings from DAPA-CKD importantly showed that SGLT2 inhibition in patients with signs of renal dysfunction “will not only slow progression of kidney disease but will also reduce the risk of developing heart failure, crucially in patients with or without type 2 diabetes,” explained Dr. McMurray in an interview. “Cardiologists often consult in the kidney wards and advise on management of patients with chronic kidney disease, even those without heart failure.”
The DAPA-CKD findings carry another important message for heart failure management regarding the minimum level of renal function a patient can have and still safely receive dapagliflozin or possibly another agent from the same SGLT2 inhibitor class. In DAPA-CKD, patients safely received dapagliflozin with an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) as low as 25 mL/min per 1.73 m2; 14% of enrolled patients had an eGFR of 25-29 mL/min per 1.73 m2.
“Typically, about 40%-50% of patients with heart failure have chronic kidney disease,” which makes this safety finding important to clinicians who care for heart failure patients, but it’s also important for any patient who might be a candidate for dapagliflozin or another drug from its class. “We had no strong evidence before this trial that SGLT2 inhibition could reduce hard renal endpoints,” specifically need for chronic dialysis, renal transplant, or renal death, “in patients with or without diabetes,” Dr. McMurray said.