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Some reflux, ulcer meds may raise kidney damage risk after heart surgery

Some reflux, ulcer meds may raise kidney damage risk after heart surgery
Risk for kidney damage is higher among heart surgery patients on proton pump inhibitors, a new study has found. File Photo by Kzenon/Shutterstock

Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Adults undergoing heart surgery who take heartburn medication before the procedure are more likely to develop acute kidney injury and to die during hospitalization, a study presented Thursday during the American Society of Nephrology meeting found.

Just under 6% of heart surgery patients who used a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, developed acute kidney injury, the data showed.

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In comparison, slightly more than 3% of patients who did not use the drugs experienced the complication, the researchers said.

In addition, patients who had taken PPIs were more than 50% more likely to die in the hospital after developing the complication than those who did not take the drugs, they said.

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"Our findings suggest that PPI exposure is a modifiable risk factor for cardiac surgery-associated AKI [or acute kidney injury]," study co-author Dr. Hee Byung Koh said in a press release.

"Stopping PPIs before surgery may be a preventive strategy for AKI after cardiac surgery," said Koh, a kidney specialist at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.

Acute kidney injury, or an abrupt drop in kidney function, is a common complication following major surgery, with previous research suggesting it occurs after up to 50% of procedures.

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PPI drugs are used to treat acid reflux -- which is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD -- as well as stomach ulcers. They are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States, according to the United States National Library of Medicine.

Nearly 30% of adults nationally use the drugs, examples of which include esomeprazole, or Nexium, and lansoprazole, or Prevacid.

For this study, the researchers included medical information from 2 groups -- 6,555 adults who underwent heart surgery between 2011 and 2020 and 2,939 older adults who underwent heart surgery between 2004 and 2015.

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Among those in the study who used PPIs before surgery, the rate of acute kidney injury requiring dialysis was 5.5% compared to 3.2% in those who did not, the data showed.

Older patients who used PPIs before heart surgery were at slightly higher risk for acute kidney injury, the researchers said.

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