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Scientists Link ACE Inhibitors With Kidney Damage

Scientists At Cambridge University Have Linked ACE Inhibitors With Kidney Damage


Cambridge University scientists have found a link between ACE inhibitors and acute kidney injury.

Research published on 6 November in the PLOS ONE journal found a positive correlation between the blood pressure medication and deterioration in the function of kidneys.

ACE inhibitors and related drugs known as angiotensin receptor antagonists are widely prescribed, perhaps most commonly to people with heart disease, kidney issues, diabetes or other conditions.

Although concerns have been raised in the past about ACE inhibitors, the exact extent of the problem had been unknown.

To gauge the problem faced in the UK, researchers took data from the whole of England and compared admission rates for acute kidney injury to hospitals between 2007-8 and 2010-11, noting a 52 per cent increase in the number of admissions in this category.

In the same period the number of ACE inhibitor prescriptions issued by GPs rose by 16 per cent and this, according to the Cambridge University researchers, shows a clear association between ACE inhibitor usage and kidney problems.

Dr Rupert Payne, senior author of the study and a senior researcher at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health, said: "There has been lots of anecdotal evidence suggesting these drugs may be a contributory factor in patients developing acute kidney injury."

"This work gives us an opportunity to estimate the size of the problem, as well as making clinicians and patients more aware of the importance of using these drugs in accordance with current clinical guidelines."

Researchers will now use a large primary care database to examine other factors that may have affected the statistics.

ACE inhibitor users are not advised to stop their treatment at this time as this could create short-term health issues, including heart attacks, strokes and raised blood pressure.

People who are concerned about this issue should make an appointment with their GP, who may be able to advise other treatments or allay concerns surrounding the drug.

Expert Opinion
The NHS must ensure all staff are quickly made aware of the link between ACE inhibitors and kidney damage so alternative treatment options can be considered.

“It is also vital that staff are reminded of the symptoms of kidney damage so immediate treatment can be offered to patients to prevent the condition escalating.

“We urge any patients who have concerns about the affects of this drug to contact their GP as quickly as possible so their treatment can be reviewed and they can be assured they are being given the safest treatment possible.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner