May 6, 2022 -- A study using computer-simulated drug trials found that people taking certain blood pressure medications along with painkillers such as ibuprofen may be risking kidney damage.

A research team at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, conducted computer-simulated drug trials to study the interactions of diuretics and RAS (renin-angiotensin system) inhibitors, which are often prescribed for people with high blood pressure, with ibuprofen, according to the study published in Mathematical Biosciences. Ibuprofen is sold over the counter as a pain reliever.

In some cases, the combination of the three drugs “significantly” increased the risk of acute kidney injury -- what the study called a “triple whammy.” Using the three drugs was associated with a 31% increase in acute kidney damage compared to patients treated with two blood pressure drugs only, the study said.

“It’s not that everyone who happens to take this combination of drugs is going to have problems,” Anita Layton, PhD, professor of applied mathematics at Waterloo, said in a news release from the university. “But the research shows it’s enough of a problem that you should exercise caution.”

The news release said computer-simulated drug trials can produce results faster than human clinical trials and “give medical practitioners a head start with issues like drug complications.”

The researchers suggested one solution: Consider taking acetaminophen instead of ibuprofen.

“Diuretics are a family of drugs that make the body hold less water,” Layton said. “Being dehydrated is a major factor in acute kidney injury, and then the RAS inhibitor and ibuprofen hit the kidney with this triple whammy. If you happen to be on these hypertension drugs and need a painkiller, consider acetaminophen instead.”

Show Sources

Mathematical Biosciences: “Determining risk factors for triple whammy acute kidney injury.”

Waterloo University: “Combining certain medications with ibuprofen can permanently injure kidneys.”

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