(NaturalHealth365) Acid reflux is a condition that affects millions of Americans. In fact, as many as 60 percent of U.S. adults deal with some form of gastroesophageal reflux (also known as heartburn and acid reflux) in any given 12 month period, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
While the best way to address acid reflux is to make healthy diet and lifestyle changes, many people use over-the-counter or prescription medications to address the symptoms. In fact, more than 14 percent of all Americans take a prescription acid reflux medication regularly.
One type of acid reflux medication called a PPI, or proton pump inhibitor, has been a popular choice in recent years. While PPIs have seemed to help acid reflux in many cases, two recent studies have shown an alarming side effect of acid reflux medication: a higher risk of heart attacks.
Acid reflux medication can trigger a heart attack
Studies conducted by Stanford University and the Houston Methodist Research Institute show a 16 to 21 percent increased risk of heart attacks in those using PPIs. These studies were published in the medical journal PLOS and looked at the medical records of almost 3 million patients with a history of taking PPIs. Medications that were taken by these patients included prescription Nexium (esomeprazole) as well as over-the-counter types like Prilosec OTC (omeprazole) and PrevAcid (lansoprazole).
Study results showing those who use PPI acid reflux medication have up to a 21 percent higher risk of heart attacks than those who don’t use them are very significant, considering the fact that so many people use these drugs on a regular basis.
Doesn’t all this make you wonder, ‘where is the FDA – in light of all these deadly side effects?’
A cash cow for the pharmaceutical industry
PPIs are generally prescribed to patients with conditions like acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), duodenal ulcers and esophagitis. For the past 10 years, at least one PPI type has been in the top three most frequently prescribed medications. Total revenues for PPIs were $8.5 billion for 2014 in the U.S., with Nexium sales accounting for most of that.
Antacid medications of the H2 blocker variety (Axid and Zantac) did not pose the same risks as PPIs, which in addition to heart attack risk have also caused concerns regarding serum magnesium. Serum magnesium levels can fall with PPI use, especially when these drugs are used for more than a year.
While these study results would be concerning in any case, they are made even more worrisome by the sheer popularity of PPI drugs and the number of people that use them regularly. Of course, the elevated instances of persons with acid reflux and other stomach and esophageal issues would be better solved with diet and lifestyle adjustments to avoid having these conditions in the first place.
However, with revenues in the billions for these drugs, it’s sadly not too surprising that the drug companies aren’t moving more quickly to study and publicize the risks. And, don’t expect the mainstream media to cover these stories – because their advertising revenue comes from the pharmaceutical industry. So, bottom line, stay tuned to NaturalHealth365 for the latest news and information designed to protect your health.