News on Wellness

Chronic Kidney Disease May Be Related To Heartburn Relief Drugs

Recent studies to be presented during the 2015 ASN Kidney Week have discovered a link between some heartburn medications and the development of chronic kidney disease. There is an estimated 31 million people suffering from chronic kidney disease in the United States. Kidney disease is the eighth leading cause of death among the American population, according to the American Society of Nephrology. This year’s ASN Kidney Week will take place at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California from November 3 to November 8.

Chronic kidney disease occurs when a person’s kidneys become damaged and can’t filter blood as they should. Common risk factors for chronic kidney disease include hypertension and diabetes, but researchers believe that certain medications may also play a role in the development of kidney disease. The medications in question are proton pump inhibitors, which are commonly used to treat heartburn and acid reflux.

Proton pump inhibitors provide a pronounced and long-lasting reduction of gastric acid production. Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid belong to this class of drugs. Previously, proton pump inhibitors have been tied to short-term kidney problems like acute kidney injury and an inflammatory kidney disease called acute interstitial nephritis.

One of the studies followed 10,482 adults with normal kidney function. That study found that users of proton pump inhibitors had a 20 percent to 50 percent increased risk of chronic kidney disease development, compared with those not using the medications. A second, larger study was conducted from 1997 to 2014 that monitored more than 240,000 patients for chronic kidney disease. The findings were roughly the same. People taking a proton pump inhibitors also had nearly twice the risk of dying prematurely.

In both studies, people who used a different class of medications to suppress stomach acid did not have a higher risk of developing kidney disease. The correlation was not seen among those using a different class of medications called H2-blockers, which includes Tagamet and Zantac.

The results of the studies showed that health care providers need to be better educated about the potential side effects of proton pump inhibitors, including the increased risk of chronic kidney disease. These medications are often prescribed outside of their approved uses, and it has been estimated that up to two-thirds of all people on proton pump inhibitors do not have a verified indication for the drug. It is also important to remember that although the current studies show a correlation between the medications and the development of chronic kidney disease, a cause-and-effect relationship have not yet been proved.

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