Report: Heartburn Drugs Linked to Kidney Damage
Chronic heartburn sufferers know how severe and uncomfortable the condition can be, with symptoms that can make eating, sleeping, and other daily routines significantly more challenging. Heartburn drugs, also known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), are often used to provide relief by reducing gastric acid. But a new study has found that the treatment may be worse than the illness in the long run, as popular heartburn drugs have been linked to kidney damage.
The study, published in the journal Kidney International, found a link between taking popular heartburn drugs such as Prilosec, Nexium, and others over a prolonged period of time with serious kidney problems, including kidney failure. Researchers studied 125,596 PPI users over the course of five years. They found that PPI users were at a higher risk for chronic kidney diseases and acute kidney injuries than use of H2 blockers like Zantac or Pepcid.
Even more troubling, the study found that more than half of the patients who develop chronic kidney damage while taking PPIs do not develop noticeable warning signs, meaning patients with declining kidney function may be unaware of their condition.
“It’s a silent disease, in the sense that it erodes kidney function very minimally and very gradually over time,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, the senior author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine.
Al-Aly stressed that while kidney problems remain rare in those taking PPIs (a 20 percent increase in developing chronic kidney disease on average) even a small potential risk increase can be considered serious with a drug taken by millions of people. According to an NPR report in 2016, an estimated 15 million Americans use PPIs to treat heartburn, while millions more use over-the-counter versions without being under a doctor’s care.
Disclaimer: This article has been prepared for general information purposes and does not constitute medical or legal advice, nor does it imply an attorney-client relationship or contract with Wexler Wallace.