Can Acid Reflux Drugs Cause Kidney Disease?

By Pete Lane, 9:00 am on

A common type of medication used to treat heartburn and acid reflux has been linked to chronic kidney disease, according to a new study. The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that proton pump inhibitors (PPI)–a class of drug that includes Prevacid, Nexium, and Prilosec–puts users at a 20 to 50 percent higher risk of chronic kidney disease over non-PPI users. According to Centennial elderly care professionals, proton pump inhibitors work by reducing the amount of acid the stomach can produce. 

The latest study used data on self-reported PPI use among more than 10,000 people involved in a study on artery hardening. Researchers also used data on outpatient PPI prescriptions for about 250,000 people in Pennsylvania. The study found that, among 322 people using PPIs, the 10-year estimated risk of chronic kidney disease was almost 12 percent, whereas the expected risk should have been 8.5 percent. The 10-year absolute risk among almost 17,000 patients in Pennsylvania was almost 16 percent, while is should have been about 14 percent. 

More than 15 million people in the United States use proton pump inhibitors. According to the study authors, up to 70 percent of these prescriptions were given inappropriately, and another one-quarter of long-term PPI users could stop taking the drug without experiencing acid reflux or heartburn. 

Use of prescription heartburn and acid reflux medication has previously been linked to short-term kidney issues like acute interstitial nephritis, an inflammatory disease. This new study has found a link between these drugs and chronic kidney disease in which the kidneys lose the ability to filter blood. 

Chronic kidney disease is a serious disorder that can eventually lead to kidney failure and the need for dialysis. This disease becomes more common with age. More elderly people are now surviving with chronic conditions like kidney disease as life expectancy increases. Previous research has found that seniors who take PPIs are twice as likely to be hospitalized for kidney failure than seniors who do not take the medication. 

Proton pump inhibitors like Nexium are commonly prescribed to seniors who experience heartburn and acid reflux, but this study shows that it may be a good idea to schedule an appointment with a doctor to discuss whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

Simple lifestyle changes, like being more mindful of what we eat, can help reduce the likelihood of experiencing heartburn or acid reflux. If you or an aging parent or relative could benefit from additional help in the kitchen, grocery shopping, or running other errands, don’t hesitate to reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our friendly at-home caregivers in Centennial are available on an as-needed basis and can help with a wide variety of everyday activities. Call our office today at 303.957.3100 to learn more.