Drugs prescribed commonly to diabetics could cause serious kidney problems and result in hundreds of deaths each year, a study suggests. Researchers found that ACE inhibitors and similar drugs, which are used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease, especially in patients with diabetes, were linked to severe kidney damage.
The growing popularity of the drugs, which are now the second most prescribed medicines in the UK, has coincided with a significant increase in patients being admitted to hospital with acute kidney injury. Analysis of data from all English hospitals found that between 1007/8 and 2010/11, the number of patients being admitted for acute kidney injury rose by 52 per cent. Although doctors have previously raised concerns about the impact of the drugs on kidney function, the extent of any potential danger has remained unclear. Figures from the new study, published in the PLOS ONE journal, suggest that the higher prescription rate was linked to 1,636 additional patients being admitted to hospital for acute kidney injury over the three year period.
One in seven of all cases of acute kidney injury – which has a mortality rate of 25 to 30 per cent – could be a result of increased prescriptions of the drugs, they claimed.