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Can Weight Loss Surgery Help Prevent Kidney Disease?

May 11, 2016

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The benefits of weight loss surgery go far beyond weight loss itself. Obesity can lead to a number of health complications and serious diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, some cancers, sleep apnea, joint problems, infertility and GERD. Bariatric surgery, combined with healthy nutrition and exercise can reduce the risk of developing these health issues for people who have unsuccessfully tried to lose weight.

Many health conditions implicated with obesity require long-term use of medications, which may cause damage to the body or increase risk of other health concerns. A new study published in January 2016 in JAMA Internal Medicines suggests that common heartburn drugs taken to relieve symptoms of GERD (chronic heartburn or acid reflux due to an increase in intra-abdominal pressure) may increase risk of chronic kidney disease. In chronic kidney disease, the kidneys are damaged and unable to properly filter blood, causing a buildup of waste in the body.

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), — such as Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid — are used to block the secretion of stomach acid and can relieve symptoms of heartburn and GERD, which causes stomach acid to back up into the esophagus. These medications may also be used to treat esophagitis and esophageal ulcers due to acid reflux as well as gastric inflammation and ulceration.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins examined medical records of more than 259,000 people, and after examining data from 10,482 participants, reported that the 10-year absolute risk for kidney disease was 11.8 percent for those using PPIs, compared to an expected risk of 8.5 percent. They also found that the 10-year absolute risk among another 16,900 patients on PPIs was 15.6 percent, compared to an expected risk of 13.9 percent.

In addition to chronic kidney disease, PPI’s have been linked to other serious health conditions, such as increased risk of bone fractures, vitamin B12 deficiency, pneumonia, C. difficlie infection, other kidney problems and possible heart problems. While this new research doesn’t prove that PPI’s cause chronic kidney disease, results of the study do warrant caution in using heartburn drugs to treat acid reflux and/or GERD.

Patients who undergo weight loss surgery often notice significant improvement or complete relieve of symptoms of acid reflux and GERD following surgery, eliminating the need for potentially risky heartburn medications, such as PPIs.

If you are overweight or obese and have been diagnosed with GERD, contact us to find out if weight loss surgery is right for you.

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