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article imageCommon heartburn drugs may be damaging your kidneys

By Karen Graham     Apr 17, 2016 in Health
There may be some common heartburn drugs sitting in your medicine cabinet that can dramatically increase your risk of kidney disease or kidney failure.
Long-term use of a common over-the-counter (OTC) medication used to treat acid reflux, ulcers and heartburn may lead to an increased risk of kidney disease and kidney failure, warns a new study.
The new study follows up and adds to previous research on proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), a group of drugs used to decrease gastric acid production, showing their use can lead to serious kidney damage, reports CBS News. Some of the drugs that contain PPIs includes Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid, as well as others.
Researchers compared patients taking medications with PPIs with those who took drugs containing histamine H2 blockers, another type of drug that reduces gastric acid production. They found a strong association between PPIs and declining kidney function.
Lead scientist Dr, Ziyad Al-Aly, with the VA Saint Louis Health Care System, along with his research team, used data from the Department of Veterans Affairs national database to reach their conclusions. They compared 173,321 new users of PPIs and 20,270 new users of Histamine H2 blockers, reports The Health Site.
The patients were followed for five years. Researchers found that PPI users had a 28 percent increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease and a 98 percent risk of developing kidney failure, compared to those taking alternative medications.
A similar study was also conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University last year. They came to a similar conclusion linking the use of PPIs to kidney damage That study was published on January 11, 2016, in JAMA Internal Medicine.
There are other medications that have been linked to kidney damage and kidney failure, say the researchers. These include some blood pressure medications, acetaminophen, and also, aspirin and ibuprofen when used for a prolonged period of time. Previous studies have also linked the prolonged use of PPIs to nutritional deficiencies, bone density loss, a slight increase in heart attack risk and dementia.
Neither this study or past studies can definitively say that PPIs will cause kidney failure. AOL News quotes one of the researchers as saying, "I cannot say for certain that this is cause-and-effect." So what does all this mean? As any doctor will tell patients, only take medication if you really need it and then, only as directed.
When it comes to OTC medications, only use them for the shortest amount of time possible. If you are not getting relief, see your doctor. The study notes that over 15 million Americans are prescribed PPIs. That number does not include those that buy these medications OTC.
More about heartburn drugs, kidney disease, Proton pump inhibitors, kidney damage, PPI's
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