Kidney disease risk increases with use of certain acid reflux medications

Kidney disease risk increases with use of certain acid reflux medications

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According to recent findings, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) – medications commonly used for the treatment of heartburn and acid reflux – may have harmful effects on the kidneys. In one of the studies, researcher Benjamin Lazarus of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, studied 10,482 healthy adults between 1996 and 2011.

“According to United States data, 90 percent of the prescriptions for PPI are not related to FDA-approved indications”, he said.

Two new studies, however, linked PPIs, which include the likes of Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid, with increased risks for chronic kidney disease.

The drugs can also lower the levels of magnesium in the blood, which can cause damage to the kidneys.

As such, the implications of the study should be closely watched by anyone who suffers from heartburn and frequently uses the aforementioned drugs. In the past, these medications have been linked to short-term kidney problems such as acute kidney injury and acute interstitial nephritis, inflammatory kidney disease. These drugs act by lowering the amount of hydrochloric acid present in stomach which is produced by the mucosal lining in the stomach, thus relieving symptoms of acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and peptic or stomach ulcers.

Chronic kidney disease is rising remarkably across the globe particularly in the Western nations.

It isn’t the first time that PPIs have been linked to kidney problems. “It is very reasonable to assume that PPIs themselves can cause chronic kidney disease”.

In the second study, Dr. Predeep Arora, a nephrologist and associate professor at the SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Science in Buffalo, N.Y., and his colleagues found that 24,149 patients out of a group of 71,516 developed CKD between 2001 and 2008.

The same team also replicated this link in a larger second study that followed 240,000 patients from 1997 to 2014, the researchers said. Diabetes Mellitus and hypertension are two common risk factors for kidney disease.

“In both studies, people who used a different class of medications to suppress stomach acid, known as H2-blockers, did not have a higher risk of developing kidney disease”, Lazarus said in an American Society of Nephrology news release. However, PPI use was associated with a 10% increased risk of CDK development and with a 76% increased risk of premature death. PPI users were between 20 and 50 percent more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than those who didn’t use them.


The studies will be presented at the American Society of Nephrology Kidney Week 2015, which will take place next week in San Diego, CA.

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