Heartburn Medications Can Increase Risk Of Stroke, Study Claims
A research recently presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2016, a well-known group of antacids known as proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, used to reduce stomach acid and treat heartburn may increase the risk of ischemic stroke.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke and usually occur when a blood clot cuts off blood flow to the brain.
"Protein Pump Inhibitors or PPIs have been associated with an unhealthy vascular function, including heart attacks, kidney disease, and dementia," said Thomas Sehested, M.D., study lead author and a researcher at the Danish Heart Foundation in Copenhagen, Denmark. "We wanted to see if PPIs also posed a risk of ischemic stroke, especially given their increasing use in the general population," Medical Xpress quoted him as saying.
For the study, researchers reviewed the records of 244,679 Danish patients with an average age of 57, who had an endoscopy, a procedure used to identify the causes of stomach pain and indigestion. During nearly six years of follow-up, 9,489 patients had an ischemic stroke for the first time in their lives. Researchers determined if the stroke occurred while patients were using one of four PPIs: omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and esomeprazole (Nexium).
The authors found either no or minimal increased risk of stroke when PPIs are taken at the lowest doses. However, when taken at the highest doses, they found that stroke risk increased by 33 percent for Prilosec and Prevacid patients, 50 percent for Nexium patients and 79 percent for Protonix patients.
In an e-mail to CNN, P&G, the company that makes the drug Prilosec, said the drug is an "FDA-approved, safe and effective remedy to relieve frequent heartburn symptoms. Prilosec OTC has the longest history of safe and effective consumer use of any [over the counter] PPI."
It is also important to note that researchers did not find an increased risk of stroke related to another group of acid-reducing medications known as H2 blockers, which include famotidine (Pepcid) and ranitidine (Zantac).
Meanwhile, authors of the study claim that their findings, together with previous studies, should encourage the more cautious use of PPIs. Dr. Sehested noted that most PPIs in the United States are now available over the counter.
"At one time, PPIs were thought to be safe, without major side effects," he said. "This study further questions the cardiovascular safety of these drugs."