Proton-pump inhibitors, the common line of treatment for heartburn and acid reflux, have been observed to increase the risk of developing kidney disease, concludes a new study. The inhibitors are commonly found in easily available medications like Prilosec, Prevacid, and Zegerid.
A new study, conducted by scientists at the Johns Hopkins University, has discovered that proton pump inhibitors, commonly used to treat acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion, can increase at risk of developing kidney disease. Their findings have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, proton-pump inhibitor medicines such as esomeprazole (Nexium), omeprazole (Prilosec), and pantoprazole (Protonix) have been previously linked to a higher risk of hip fractures.
In an editorial, Dr. Adam Schoenfeld and Dr. Deborah Grady noted, “It is possible that PPI users are sicker than nonusers, or that adverse effects are caused by other drugs or conditions associated with PPI use. However, some adverse effects have been documented by multiple high-quality observational studies and are likely causal.”
Other complications include an elevated risk of developing pneumonia, Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection, and magnesium, iron, or vitamin B-12 malabsorption. Additionally, these PPIs could also accelerate the development of a blood disorder called thrombocytopenia, which may lead to excessive bleeding. MSN reports that the side effects are rare. Moreover, the study doesn’t conclusively prove that consumption of proton-pump inhibitors leads to kidney failure.
However, previous investigations have strongly indicated that people are heavily reliant on these medications to seek relief from heartburn and acid reflux. Studies in the past have associated the pill to multiple side effect, including heart attack and kidney failure. As a result, people should be aware of the risks so that they consume the drugs only when it is absolutely necessary.
People have been known to routinely take medications that contain proton-pump inhibitors for prolonged periods of time. The study strongly suggests limiting the use of these medications, and taking them for the shortest periods of time, said Benjamin Lazarus, MBBS, from the Department of Epidemiology in Johns Hopkins University.
“More than 15 million Americans used prescription PPIs in 2013, costing more than $10 billion. Study findings suggest that up to 70% of these prescriptions are without indication and that 25% of long-term PPI users could discontinue therapy without developing symptoms. Indeed, there are already calls for the reduction of unnecessary use of PPIs.”
Dr. Morgan Grams of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, who is the lead author of the study, advised that there’s substantial evidence to suggest proton-pump inhibitors are extremely safe. However, the medication does come with “some adverse effects.”
“Given the widespread use of PPIs, even relatively rare adverse effects can impact large numbers of people. Thus, I think it wise to be judicious in the use of PPIs.”
Worryingly, studies have also associated PPIs with an increased risk of heart attack and a higher chance of death for patients in the hospital, reports Youth Health Magazine. To investigate the link between chronic kidney disease (CKD) and prolonged use of PPIs, the researchers evaluated the medical data of 10,482 subjects from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) and took into comparison the rates of CKD incidents between patients taking proton-pump inhibitors and those who are not, reported Medscape. The same approach was replicated in almost 250,000 subjects from the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania.
Researchers observed that of the 322 subjects using PPIs in the ARIC study, the risk of developing kidney disease was at 11.8 percent, whereas among the 16,900 subjects from the Geisinger Health System who are using PPIs, the risk for kidney disease was at 15.6 percent. Although the numbers aren’t high, they are enough to curtail usage of PPIs, concluded the study.
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