Heartburn drugs are among the most widely used drugs in the nation. A new study shows that these drugs, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) also associate an increased risk of death.
What are PPI’s?
According to drugs.com, proton pump inhibitors “reduce the production of acid by the stomach by irreversibly blocking the actions of an enzyme responsible for acid production, H+/K+ ATPase, that is located in the parietal cells in the stomach wall.” The site also contains a list of common PPI drugs.
Why are PPI’s used?
The online medical encyclopedia, Medlineplus.gov states, “Proton pump inhibitors are used to: Relieve symptoms of acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is a condition in which food or liquid moves up from the stomach to the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach). Treat a peptic or stomach ulcer.”
Florida news reports that since many PPI drugs are available over-the-counter, researchers agree that are widely overused or misused.
What do I do if I’m taking a PPI?
In a phone interview to Reuters Health, Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly of Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis said,
“Any intake or use of PPIs should be under the watchful and vigilant eye of a physician, for the smallest dose that’s effective and the shortest period of time,”
Considering the fact that about 50 million people in the US are on PPIs, there is strong evidence that the drugs are overused. Popular drugs in this class include omeprazole (Prilosec), esomeprazole (Nexium), and lansoprazole (Prevacid).
Dr. Ziyad and his colleagues looked at data on millions of US military veterans to determine if taking PPIs was associated with an increased risk of dying during about six years of follow-up.
New users of PPIs were 25% more likely to die during follow-up than people who started taking H2 blockers, Al-Aly and his colleagues report in BMJ Open.
For new PPI users, death risk rose in tandem with the amount of time the person took the medication. Risk was also increased in people who were on PPIs without an appropriate medical reason.
The most likely explanation for the increased mortality risk is the side effects associated with PPIs, Al-Aly said.
This article adapted from: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-heartburn-drugs-tied-to-greater-mortality-2017-7