Millions of Americans suffer from debilitating heartburn.
For many, the treatment they end up turning to is the use of antacids to reduce the painful condition. And, since most people’s heartburn persists for days, weeks, and even months, the use of antacids becomes a common daily practice.
Turns out the use of antacids might actually be a contributing factor to a higher risk of heart attack.
A study published in the journal Public Library of Science was able to to show the use of certain over-the-counter antacids increases your risk of heart attack anywhere from 16-21 percent. The study was colossal in scale as the researchers went over more then 16 million clinical documents which covered the data of 2.9 million patients.
In their findings, they noted a certain kind of antacid, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPI) are the type contributing to this risk.
Lead researcher Nigam H. Shah from Stanford University, California said, “People who take medication to suppress stomach acid are at greater risk of developing myocardial infarction, commonly known as heart attack.”
He went on to say, “By looking at data from people who were given these drugs primarily for acid reflux and had no prior history of heart disease, our data-mining pipeline signals an association with a higher rate of heart attacks. Our results demonstrate that PPIs appear to be associated with elevated risk of heart attack in the general population.”
PPIs are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs helping regulate a myriad of disorders, including gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). Some of the more popular PPIs include Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid. It’s estimated 113 million PPI prescriptions are written worldwide ever year.
So what exactly did the PPIs do to the body?
As John Cooke, another senior author said, “Our earlier work identified that the PPIs can adversely affect the endothelium, the Teflon-like lining of the blood vessels.”
The interesting thing about the study is what was revealed when they studied an alternate class of antacids.
Teaming up with scientists from Houston Methodist Hospital, the researchers noted antacids known as H2 blockers did not contribute to an increased risk in heart attacks. Common H2 blockers include Tagament and Zantac.
The researchers were then able to conclude their initials suspicions about PPIs were misinformed.
The study’s authors originally believed those at risk were ones with coronary artery disease and who used an anti-platelet drug called clopidorgel to prevent future heart attacks.
After their findings, they changed their conclusion to say, “Our report raises concerns that these drugs — which are available over the counter and are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the world — may not be as safe as we previously assumed.”
One of the best ways to end antacids as I’ve seen is modification of the diet.
This doesn’t work in all cases, but for many, diet is one of the biggest contributing factors for GERD and other related disorders.
Working with a physician to discover food allergies and working to regulate other bodily functions through diet can greatly reduce your chances of suffering from heart burn.