Acid-Reducing Drugs Raise Heart Risk

The drugs used for indigestion or heartburn (dyspepsia), peptic ulcers, and the gastritis caused by medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are currently among the most commonly purchased drugs in the world.

Proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs as they are known, reduce the production of gastric acid. They are also used to treat gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and laryngopharyngeal reflux.

More than 100 million PPI prescriptions are filled every year in the United States alone. Popular PPI choices, which may include prescription and over-the-counter products, include: omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), dexlansoprazole (Dexilant), esomeprazole (Nexium), pantoprazole (Protonix), and rabeprazole (Aciphex).

While they have been considered to be generally safe, there have been concerns raised about specific long-term side effects. These have been related to their potential to change the absorption of vitamins and minerals, impact bone density, and interact with other drugs to affect their activity levels in the body. They may also lower serum magnesium levels.

PPIs reduce the activity of an enzyme in the lining of blood vessels that produces nitric oxide, which is what gives blood vessels the ability to relax and dilate, and thus regulates blood flow through the arteries that nourish the heart.

If nitric oxide is less available and the blood vessels are less able to maintain proper blood flow, cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke, and heart failure may occur.

There was a striking 16 to 21% increase in the rate of heart attacks among the PPI users. And this increase in heart attack frequency was not just seen in the older population — it also happened in otherwise healthy PPI users who were under 45 years of age.

By contrast, there was no increased risk of cardiovascular events noted when patients with reflux, esophagitis, and other similar problems, used H2 blockers as antacids instead of PPIs. Common H2 blockers include ranitidine (Zantac) and cimetidine (Tagamet).


Talk to your doctor (MD, ND, DC) if you are ready to make more natural changes that may help you get off of PPI’s

The study is published in PLOS ONE.


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