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The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 60:1147-1151 (2005)
© 2005 The Gerontological Society of America

Concealed Renal Failure and Adverse Drug Reactions in Older Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Andrea Corsonello1,, Claudio Pedone2, Francesco Corica3, Bruno Mazzei1, Angelo Di Iorio4, Pierugo Carbonin2, Raffaele Antonelli Incalzi2, for the Gruppo Italiano di Farmacovigilanza nell'Anziano (GIFA)

1 Divisione di Medicina Geriatrica, Istituto Nazionale di Ricovero e Cura per Anziani (INRCA), Cosenza, Italy.
2 Centro di Medicina dell'Invecchiamento, Policlinico A. Gemelli, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy.
3 Dipartimento di Medicina Interna, Università degli Studi di Messina, Italy.
4 Dipartimento di Medicina e Scienze dell'Invecchiamento, Università degli Studi "G. D'Annunzio," Chieti, Italy.

Address correspondence to Andrea Corsonello, MD, Via D. Frugiuele, 39, I-87100 Cosenza, Italy. E-mail: andrea_corsonello{at}

Background. In elderly patients serum creatinine may be normal despite decreased glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of this "concealed" renal failure, i.e., renal failure with normal serum creatinine levels, in elderly diabetic patients, and to verify whether it is a risk factor for adverse drug reactions (ADR) to hydrosoluble drugs.

Methods. We used data on 2257 hospitalized patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus enrolled in the Gruppo Italiano di Farmacovigilanza nell'Anziano study. On the basis of serum creatinine and calculated GFR, patients were grouped as follows: normal renal function (normal serum creatinine levels and normal GFR), concealed (normal serum creatinine levels and reduced GFR), or overt (increased creatinine levels and reduced GFR) renal failure. GFR was calculated using the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) equation. The outcome of the study was the incidence of ADR to hydrosoluble drugs during the hospital stay. The relationship between renal function and ADR was evaluated using Cox regression analysis including potential confounders.

Results. Concealed renal failure was observed in 363 (16.1%) of patients studied. Patients with concealed or overt renal failure were older, had more frequently cognitive impairment and polypharmacy, and had lower serum albumin levels than did those with normal renal function. Both concealed (hazard ratio = 1.90; 95% confidence interval, 1.04–3.48; p =.036) and overt (hazard ratio = 2.23; 95% confidence interval, 1.40–3.55; p =.001) renal failure were significantly associated with ADR to hydrosoluble drugs. The use of more than four drugs also qualified as an independent risk factor for ADRs to hydrosoluble drugs during hospital stay.

Conclusions. Older diabetic patients should be systematically screened to ascertain the presence of concealed renal failure in an attempt to optimize the pharmacological treatment and reduce the risk of ADRs.

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