Objective: To determine if trimethoprim use for urinary tract infection (UTI) is associated with an increased risk of acute kidney injury, hyperkalaemia, or sudden death in the general population.
Design: Cohort study.
Setting: UK electronic primary care records from practices contributing to the Clinical Practice Research Datalink linked to the Hospital Episode Statistics database.
Participants: Adults aged 65 and over with a prescription for trimethoprim, amoxicillin, cefalexin, ciprofloxacin, or nitrofurantoin prescribed up to three days after a primary care diagnosis of UTI between April 1997 and September 2015.
Main outcome measures: The outcomes were acute kidney injury, hyperkalaemia, and death within 14 days of a UTI treated with antibiotics.
Results: Among a cohort of 1 191 905 patients aged 65 and over, 178 238 individuals were identified with at least one UTI treated with antibiotics, comprising a total of 422 514 episodes of UTIs treated with antibiotics. The odds of acute kidney injury in the 14 days following antibiotic initiation were higher following trimethoprim (adjusted odds ratio 1.72, 95% confidence interval 1.31 to 2.24) and ciprofloxacin (1.48, 1.03 to 2.13) compared with amoxicillin. The odds of hyperkalaemia in the 14 days following antibiotic initiation were only higher following trimethoprim (2.27, 1.49 to 3.45) compared with amoxicillin. However, the odds of death within the 14 days following antibiotic initiation were not higher with trimethoprim than with amoxicillin: in the whole population the adjusted odds ratio was 0.90 (95% confidence interval 0.76 to 1.07) while among users of renin-angiotensin system blockers the odds of death within 14 days of antibiotic initiation was 1.12 (0.80 to 1.57). The results suggest that, for 1000 UTIs treated with antibiotics among people 65 and over, treatment with trimethoprim instead of amoxicillin would result in one to two additional cases of hyperkalaemia and two admissions with acute kidney injury, regardless of renin-angiotensin system blockade. However, for people taking renin-angiotensin system blockers and spironolactone treatment with trimethoprim instead of amoxicillin there were 18 additional cases of hyperkalaemia and 11 admissions with acute kidney injury.
Conclusion: Trimethoprim is associated with a greater risk of acute kidney injury and hyperkalaemia compared with other antibiotics used to treat UTIs, but not a greater risk of death. The relative risk increase is similar across population groups, but the higher baseline risk among those taking renin-angiotensin system blockers and potassium-sparing diuretics translates into higher absolute risks of acute kidney injury and hyperkalaemia in these groups.
Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions.