A correlation between the use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and kidney disease has been suggested in recent studies released by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). PPIs are medications which work to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach, which helps to treat chronic heartburn, acid reflux, esophageal inflammation, and stomach ulcers. PPIs are found in most common heartburn and acid reflux medications like Nexium, Prevacid, and Prilosec.
These studies found that taking PPIs may lead to a higher risk for kidney-related diseases including chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD). While this alleged heightened degree of risk is still being evaluated, the studies show a significantly higher degree of risk for kidney disease in those who used PPI’s for an extended period of time compared with those who only used PPIs for 30 days or less. There was also an increased risk for those taking two doses of PPIs per day versus just one dose per day.
In the past, PPIs have also been suspected of leading to acute kidney inflammation and magnesium deficiencies. The vitamin deficiencies are thought to be due to the impact the drug has on the stomach’s ability to absorb nutrients into the body. These other alleged side effects of PPIs have led scholars to try and determine if either or both are the reasons for the increased risk of kidney disease.
Once a person has CKD, there is a gradual progression to kidney failure if it is not properly treated. If kidney failure is left untreated by dialysis or a transplant, toxins and fluids begin to build up in the body, leading to a number of serious consequences including a likelihood of hypertension, heart disease and premature death.
The authors of the JAMA study note that the next step in determining whether this possible link is in fact causal would be to look at whether limiting PPI usage reduces the risk for CKD.
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