Heartburn, Ulcers and Acid Reflux Drugs Increase Risk of Kidney Disease and Kidney Failure


Study found that Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) Increase Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease and Failure by 20%

Researchers from the Department of Pharmacy Practice at the University at Buffalo, New York found that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that are commonly used to treat heartburn, ulcers and acid reflux are associated with an increased risk for acute kidney injury (AKI) or chronic kidney disease (CKD). The researchers discovered that the use of these PPIs raises the risk of kidney disease by 20% in people who never had any previous kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease can then proceed to kidney failure with the need for dialysis, a kidney transplant or death. Other research that showed an association between PPIs with kidney damage and kidney disease had only been with a small number of studies with short periods of follow-up. The results of this large cohort study were published February 18, 2019 in Pharmacotherapy: The Journal of Human Pharmacology and Drug Therapy.

Large Cohort Study in a Population-based Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

The researchers examined the health data of more than 190,000 patients over a 15-year period.

Cohort 1

Cohort 1 was made up of patients with acute kidney injury (AKI). This large cohort study included 93,335 participants who were patients in the AKI cohort and 16,593 of them had been exposed to PPIs. Those that had been exposed to PPI were associated with a greater risk of AKI.

Cohort 2

Cohort 2 was made up of 84,600 patients with CKD, of whom 14,514 were exposed to PPIs. Those that had been exposed to PPIs had higher rates of CKD.


The results of this large cohort study showed that using PPIs is associated with a greater risk for developing AKI or CKD. These lead to kidney failure and the need for ongoing dialysis, a kidney transplant or death. All of these result in a tremendous health care burden including human suffering and enormous financial costs to the healthcare system and public health.

Researchers Recommend De-Prescribing Initiatives

Dr, David Jacobs who led the study estimates that in 2008 Americans spent over 14 billion dollars on about 113 million prescriptions for PPIs. The researchers believe it is necessary to raise awareness about PPIs and an increased risk for kidney failure, especially to doctors and healthcare providers. They recommend de-prescribing initiatives among healthcare providers and doctors that could lead to prescribing lower dosages of PPIs or stopping PPI treatment altogether. Also, David Jacobs claims that PPIs can normally treat conditions like heart burn, acid reflux or ulcers over a short period of time, but up to 70% of people continue to overuse PPIs longer than necessary.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) means that the kidneys have become damaged and can no longer properly filter blood. CKD is known as a “silent disease” because a person may feel fine, but blood tests will show things in the blood that should not be there because the kidneys can no longer filter them out. Unfortunately, by the time there are symptoms, the kidneys have become very badly damaged and it may be too late to save the kidneys. Read more about “silent” chronic kidney disease in our blog post from February 21, 2019.

Acute Kidney Injury (AKI)

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), acute kidney injury (AKI) is a common, deadly complication of medical and surgical illnesses. AKI can also be the outcome in people with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Those who are at risk for AKI are:

  • Diabetics – Read more about diabetes and diabetic kidney disease (DKD) in our blog post from March 21, 2019.
  • Seniors
  • People with chronic kidney disease (CKD)
  • African Americans

Safer Drugs to Treat Heartburn, Ulcers and Acid Reflux

Since research has shown an association between PPIs and chronic kidney disease and kidney failure, you may want to check with your doctor about other, safer drugs to take if you suffer from heartburn, ulcers or acid reflux. Also, if you are taking PPIs make sure you are taking only the amount your doctor has prescribed and that you are not continuing to take PPIs when they are no longer needed.

The Need for Rehabilitation or Skilled Nursing Care

If you or your loved one are in need of rehabilitation or skilled nursing care because of chronic kidney disease and/or other chronic diseases like heart disease or diabetes, the Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Galloway Township, New Jersey offers expert rehabilitation and skilled nursing care. Royal Suites also offers diabetes monitoring and care. Royal Suites has a high ratio of staff per resident, so you or your loved one will get the best of care. Royal Suites is a 5-star facility located in a beautiful area surrounded by eight acres of woods and landscaped gardens.


Since chronic kidney disease (CKD) and acute kidney injury (AKI) can lead to kidney failure and death it pays to be extra careful about using drugs like PPIs that have been associated with high risks for kidney disease and kidney failure. Kidney failure is a far more serious condition than heart burn or acid reflux. Check with your doctor to see about safer alternatives for treating these conditions.




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