Friday, June 26, 2015

Popular Heartburn Meds Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Attack

People who use certain heartburn drugs for a long period of time may have a slightly heightened risk of suffering a heart attack, a new study suggests.

Using medical records from nearly 300,000 U.S. adults with acid reflux disease (commonly called heartburn), researchers found that the risk of heart attack was slightly elevated among those using proton pump inhibitors.
Proton pump inhibitors are a group of acid-suppressing drugs that include brand-names such as Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium. In 2009, they were the third most commonly used type of drug in the United States, the researchers said.

The study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, adds to the list of risks linked to prolonged use of proton pump inhibitors.

“These are powerful drugs, and we already know they have negative effects,” said Dr. F. Paul Buckley III, surgical director at the Scott & White Heartburn and Acid Reflex Center, in Round Rock, Texas.

Most of those long-term risks are linked to the drug’s suppression of stomach acids, said Buckley, who was not involved in the new study.

When stomach acids are blocked, the body is less able to absorb certain nutrients, including magnesium, calcium and vitamin B12. And proton pump inhibitors have been linked to problems such as bone-density loss and fractures.

Researcher Dr. John Cooke, chair of cardiovascular sciences at the Houston Methodist Research Institute estimates proton pump inhibitor users were 16 to 21% more likely to suffer a heart attack than people with chronic acid reflux who were not taking the drugs.

Recent lab research suggests that proton pump inhibitors can interfere with normal blood vessel function – a potential mechanism by which the drugs could affect heart attack risk. “I’m concerned that people are taking them for the wrong reasons, and for too long,” Cooke said.

The study was published online June 10 in the journal PLOS One.

My Take:
A “slightly heightened risk” of heart attack would be a one, two or three percent increase. Statin drugs reduce the risk of heart attack by one percent and they are prescribed to 50% of our population of the age of 45. A 16-22% risk is huge.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) prevent the lining of the stomach from producing hydrogen protons, or stomach acid. This effectively stops the digestive process before it begins. It reduces pepsin, bile salts, and pancreatic enzyme release.

The lack of stomach acid allows harmful pathogens from food and water to pass further into the digestive tract and potentially create infection.

PPIs have been linked to osteoporosis, anemia, and malabsorption syndromes. They were designed for short term use – up to two weeks, but are now available OTC (over the counter) without prescription and are used daily by millions of Americans.

Bottom Line:
If you are on any of these medications, consult your physician and get off them now.

June 10, 2015 National Institutes of Health

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