Stanford researchers confirm that there is a link between proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and heart attacks.
A new study conducted by Stanford University researchers found that people who use particular heartburn medication for long periods of time are more likely to suffer from a heart attack. Experts tracked the medical records of about 300,000 adults with heartburn problems in the US and concluded that the patients who used proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) were more likely to suffer from a stroke.
PPIs are medicines that reduce the volume of stomach acid produced by blocking the enzyme in the stomach lining that produces the acid. PPIs are useful for curing patients who have:
Prilosec, Prevacid, Dexilent, Kapidex, Aciphex, Protonix, and Nexium are the commonly used PPIs in the market today. A 2009 survey found that these medications were the third most used type of drug in the US. They are often prescribed for heartburn, and boast annual sales of about USD 14 million. But, it is a drug that is not intended to treat heartburn.
The acid produced by the glands in the stomach are essential for absorption of vital nutrients like magnesium, vitamin B12, and calcium. Long term use of these powerful drugs can lead to an inability to absorb these nutrients which can pave the way for a host of conditions not limiting to those related to cardiovascular health. Also, PPIs can interfere with normal blood vessel functioning which is a factor that can explain why excessive use of these drugs can increase the risk of a heart attack.
However, some experts argue that confounding factors like obesity levels and overall health were not taken into consideration while scaling the statistics of the study, and so putting the blame on PPIs might be unfair. A detailed study that tracks the study group’s consumption of PPIs simultaneously with their heart health is necessary to provide evidence that PPIs can actually lead to strokes.
A team at Houston Methodist Research Institute found that PPI users were 16 to 21 percent more likely to suffer from a stroke than patients of chronic acid reflux who were not using PPIs. Experts argue that this observational data cannot be conclusive of the effects of the drug. This is because several other factors like the obesity levels of the participants were not taken into consideration while analyzing the data.
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