(NaturalHealth365) Instead of eating better and seeking out natural remedies for acid reflux, all too many Americans have come to view the antacid as a license to eat poorly. However, chronic, long-term use of the antacid drugs known as PPIs, or proton pump inhibitors, can have serious and deadly side effects.
A Circulation Research paper from the American Heart Association journal shows that continued use of PPIs for gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) and heartburn accelerates blood vessel aging. This in turn can lead to conditions like cardiovascular disease, renal failure and vascular dementia.
Antacid drugs linked with heart attack, dementia and renal failure
The Houston Methodist Research Institute team that conducted these studies are continuing the work of John Cooke, M.D., Ph.D. The findings support retrospective and epidemiological studies that also found connections between long-term PPI antacid use and heart attack, dementia and kidney failure.
An example of a PPI is Nexium, a brand name for esomeprazole. Prilosec and Prevacid are other popular PPI choices. These drugs are commonly used in treating GERD and chronic heartburn. Because they are available over the counter, not much medical supervision is involved. While effective when taken occasionally and as prescribed, they have no approval for long-term use. Data currently suggests as much as 70 percent of the use of these antacid drugs may be abusive or inappropriate.
Chronic exposure to PPIs has been found to accelerate aging in the endothelial cells that line blood vessel interiors. When healthy, these cells create a non-stick coating like Teflon that prevents blood from adhering to blood vessel walls. As it ages or becomes diseased, the endothelium can become rough and sticky, causing blood components to adhere and form blockages.
PPI antacids cause premature vascular aging
The recent study found that prolonged taking of antacids can lead to a much more rapid aging of these endothelial cells. The acidity levels within their lysosomes are also reduced; lysosomes are like the cells’ garbage disposals and require optimal acid levels to function properly. An accumulation of waste in endothelial cells also accelerates vascular decline.
Higher risk of heart attack, dementia and renal failure have been observed in chronic and long-term antacid users for some time. This recent study offers insights as to why.
While occasional use of antacid drugs does not seem to affect the blood vessels and heart, risk factors arise when an antacid is used for more than a few weeks. While H2 blockers like Zantac and Tagamet (ranitidine) are not linked with vascular aging, medical supervision and the requirement of a prescription should be strongly considered by the medical community for antacids like PPIs.
There are also a number of natural remedies for acid reflux that can be used instead. A few sips of apple cider vinegar, drinking chamomile tea or baking soda diluted in water, chewing ginger root and mint leaves can all be considered safe (and effective) for eliminating the symptoms linked to acid reflux.
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