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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Improving the understanding, detection, and management of kidney disease.

Medicines and Kidney Disease

Medicines to Treat Kidney Disease

People with kidney disease often take medicines to lower blood pressure, control blood glucose, and lower blood cholesterol. Two types of blood pressure medicines - ACE inhibitors and ARBs - may slow kidney disease and delay kidney failure, even in people who don't have high blood pressure.

The most important step you can take to treat kidney disease is to control your blood pressure. Many people need to take two or more medicines for their blood pressure, often including a diuretic (water pill). These medicines may work better if you limit your salt intake. The goal is to keep your blood pressure at or below the target set by your health care provider. For most people, the blood pressure target is less than 140/90 mm Hg.

Other Medicines

Because you have kidney disease, you need to be careful about all the medicines you take. Your kidneys do not filter as well as they did in the past. This can cause an unsafe buildup of medicines in your blood. Some medicines can also harm your kidneys.

Your pharmacist and health care provider need to know about all the medicines you take so they can give you advice on how to protect your kidneys.

These medicines include:

You may be told to:

Do you take medicines for headaches, pain, fever, or colds?

If you take OTC or prescription medicines for headaches, pain, fever, or colds, you may be taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include commonly used pain relievers and cold medicines that can damage your kidneys and lead to acute kidney injury, especially in those with kidney disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Ibuprofen and naproxen are NSAIDs.

NSAIDs are sold under many different brand names, so ask your pharmacist or health care provider if the medicines you take are safe to use. You also can look for NSAIDs on Drug Facts labels like the one below.

A picture of a sample drug label for a drug that contains ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is an NSAID.

What you can do

Remember that you can always talk with your pharmacist or health care provider about your medicines.

  • An older woman speaks with a pharmacist about a prescription

    Take Charge of Your Kidney Health

    Talk to your pharmacist about your medicines and how they affect your kidneys.

Page last updated: September 17, 2014