Renin-angiotensin system blocker discontinuation and adverse outcomes in chronic kidney disease

Carl P. Walther, Wolfgang C. Winkelmayer, Peter A. Richardson, Salim S. Virani, Sankar D. Navaneethan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Treatment with renin-angiotensin system inhibitors (RASIs), angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) is the standard of care for those with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and albuminuria. However, ACEI/ARB treatment is often discontinued for various reasons. We investigated the association of ACEI/ARB discontinuation with outcomes among US veterans with non-dialysis-dependent CKD. Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study of patients in the Veterans Affairs healthcare system with non-dialysis-dependent CKD who subsequently were started on ACEI/ARB therapy (new user design). Discontinuation events were defined as a gap in ACEI/ARB therapy of ≥14 days and were classified further based on duration (14-30, 31-60, 61-90, 91-180 and >180 days). This was treated as a time-varying risk factor in adjusted Cox proportional hazards models for the outcomes of death and incident end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), which also adjusted for relevant confounders. Results: We identified 141 252 people with CKD and incident ACEI/ARB use who met the inclusion criteria; these were followed for a mean 4.87 years. There were 135 356 discontinuation events, 68 699 deaths and 6152 incident ESKD events. Discontinuation of ACEI/ARB was associated with a higher risk of death [hazard ratio (HR) 2.3, 2.0, 1.99, 1.92 and 1.74 for those discontinued for 14-30, 31-60, 61-90, 91-180 and >180 days, respectively]. Similar associations were noted between ACEI and ARB discontinuation and ESKD (HR 1.64, 1.47, 1.54, 1.65 and 1.59 for those discontinued for 14-30, 31-60, 61-90, 91-180 and >180 days, respectively). Conclusions: In a cohort of predominantly male veterans with CKD Stages 3 and 4, ACEI/ARB discontinuation was independently associated with an increased risk of subsequent death and ESKD. This may be due to the severity of illness factors that drive the decision to discontinue therapy. Further investigations to determine the causes of discontinuations and to provide an evidence base for discontinuation decisions are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1893-1899
Number of pages7
JournalNephrology Dialysis Transplantation
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • ACEI
  • ARB
  • ESKD
  • chronic kidney disease
  • discontinuation
  • mortality


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