New Heartburn Medication Study Reveals Increased Risk of Kidney Failure

New research involving proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) was revealed in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. The study reveals that PPIs might seriously increase the risk for kidney disease or kidney failure. PPIs are one of the most-prescribed drugs in the world and are popular since they are fast-acting, and were believed to have low toxicity, CBS reports.

PPIs are used by people who suffer from chronic heartburn, ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (acid reflux). Brand names include Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium, Protonix, and Aciphex. It is estimated that 15 million Americans use these medications, reports CBS.

There is a histamine H2 receptor blocker that can be taken as an alternative to PPIs and poses considerably less risk of kidney problems. Studies revealed a 96 percent increased risk of developing kidney failure and a 28 percent higher risk of kidney disease in patients who took PPIs as opposed to those who took the histamine H2 receptor blockers.

PPIs have been linked in earlier research to acute interstitial nephritis, an issue that could lead to kidney failure. In January, a study appeared online in JAMA showing a link between PPIs and an increased risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Other side effects of PPIs found in previous studies are increased risk of pneumonia, a small risk of osteoporosis, and double the risk of C. (clostridium) difficile infection. C. difficile is a type of bacteria and part of the normal balance of bacteria in the large intestine in most people. However, if something such as medication upsets the balance, the bacteria can start to release toxins that attack the lining of the intestines, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Authors of the study suggest that PPIs are overprescribed. The earlier study in 2008 showed the same. In the new study, the researchers conclude that if PPIs are prescribed, they should be taken sparingly and only taken for a brief period of time, told CBS.

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