Two recent studies have shown that taking common heartburn medication has been associated with increased kidney failure risk, so patients should be kept on guard before taking such drugs.
Both scientific papers involved a category of pills known as proton pump inhibitors (PPI), which include popular drugs such as Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium.
These treatments are used for combating acid reflux and heartburn, by diminishing the concentration of acid present in the stomach.
Prior research had shown that PPIs may cause adverse drug reactions related to the kidneys, such as acute interstitial nephritis (rapidly developing inflammation), and acute kidney injury (a sudden loss of renal function whose onset takes as little as 7 days).
Now, experts at Suny Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Science in Buffalo, NY, revealed that even chronic renal problems may be linked with such medicine.
The survey analyzed 24,000 patients who had been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease between 2001 and 2008, and it was determined that a quarter of them had been administered PPIs. Moreover, those who had taken such drugs were twice as likely to die prematurely.
According to lead author Dr. Pradeep Arora, nephrologist and associate professor, it may be that kidneys suffer progressive damage following repeated instances of acute interstitial nephritis, and eventually this leads to renal failure.
Moreover, PPIs disrupt magnesium levels, causing further issues to kidneys and disrupting their normal functions.
A similar study was also carried out by scientists at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, and Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital in Australia.
Around 10,000 adult subjects who had fully functional kidneys at the beginning of the trial were monitored between 1996 and 2011. It was discovered that individuals who had taken proton pump inhibitors were approximately 20% to 50% more at risk of developing chronic kidney failure.
Researchers also revealed that those who had been administered H2-blockers (such as Tagamet and Zantac), for the same purpose of neutralizing gastric acid, didn’t face similar risks.
A follow-up study conducted by the same team reviewed medical records belonging to 240,000 patients, between 1997 and 2014, and prior findings were proven accurate.
However, detractors of this theory point out that persons who take proton pump inhibitors often have other underlying conditions such as diabetes and obesity, which are the actual culprits leading to kidney trouble.
Moreover, individuals who suffer heartburn and acid reflux also tend to take other pills, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, whose ingestion has also been associated with kidney failure.
Study authors admit that indeed their research didn’t take into account NSAID use, so further analysis is being conducted, to assess the importance of this factor.
Meanwhile, they urge patients to only take proton pump inhibitors for treating gastroesophageal reflux disease, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recommended.
Abusive ingestion of such medicine for less serious conditions like heartburn and indigestion might cause more harm than good, researchers warn.
Nowadays, chronic kidney disease affects around 20 million people in the U.S., and the number of diagnosed cases has been growing recently.
The new findings that link PPI use with this serious condition will be presented more in depth at the American Society of Nephrology’s annual Kidney Week, scheduled to take place in San Diego, California, between November 3 and 8.
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