Common heartburn meds may harm your kidney health

In a study from the University of California San Diego, scientists found that patients who took PPIs were more likely to experience kidney disease.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which include well-known brand names Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid, are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the world.

Approximately 10% of adults in the United States take these drugs for frequent heartburn, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.

In the study, researchers analyzed the FAERS database contains more than 10 million patient records — all voluntary reports of adverse effects while taking a medication.

The team focused on patients who took PPIs and no other medications, narrowing their study population down to approximately 43,000 patients.

They also included the control group, approximately 8,000 patients who took histamine-2 receptor blockers, such as Zantac or Pepcid, and no other medications.

The team found patients who took only PPIs reported a kidney-related adverse reaction at a frequency of 5.6%, compared to just 0.7% for patients who took only histamine-2 receptor antagonists.

Compared to the control group, patients who took only PPIs were 28.4 times more likely to report chronic kidney disease, as well as acute kidney injury (4.2 times more likely), end-stage renal disease (35.5 times more likely), and unspecified kidney impairment (8 times more likely).

Patients who took PPIs were also more likely to experience electrolyte abnormalities, but this varied more by individual PPI, while the kidney-specific effects held true for all five PPIs examined.

As the World Health Organization notes, PPIs are essential medicines for many people, helping them to control symptoms that are often painful and disruptive to daily life.

But the team hopes this initial data will prompt health care providers to provide the appropriate warnings, education, and monitoring for patients who require PPIs, particularly if they are already at elevated risk for kidney disease.

Researchers made similar recommendations following a 2017 UC San Diego School of Medicine study that found evidence in mice and humans that PPIs promote chronic liver disease.

If you care about kidney health, please read studies about how to improve outcomes of chronic kidney disease, and common heartburn drugs may cause gradual yet ‘silent’ kidney damage.

For more information about kidney health, please see recent studies about how to protect your kidney health if you have diabetes, and results showing how to live long with kidney disease.

The study was published in Scientific Reports and conducted by Ruben Abagyan et al.

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