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Can Acid Reflux Drugs Cause Heart Disease?

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Yet another red flag is raised about a class of drugs used by millions of people. Methodist Hospital researchers out of Houston Texas found that PPI’s (proton pump inhibitors) used to treat acid reflux, heartburn and GERD, caused blood vessels to constrict. If continued for a long period of time, this could lead to high blood pressure, a weakened heart and heart disease.

One possible cause of this effect is the suppression of the production of nitric oxide, which is a substance proved to relax and protect arteries and veins. The Houston researchers found a 25-30% reduction in nitric oxide production in mice and human tissues.

Previous studies also reported an increased risk of a second heart attack with long-term use of these drugs. PPI’s include Acifex, Prilosec, Protonix, Nexium, Prevacid, Zegarid and Dexalant. These drugs were never approved for long-term use, although many people are taking them for years. They are recommended for a maximum of 8-12 weeks.

There are proven dietary and lifestyle strategies for managing acid reflux, heartburn and GERD. There are also foods and supplements that can help protect the lining of the GI tract, as well as manage and suppress these symptoms.

The PPI’s are very effective in suppressing acid production and are recommended for very short-term use, when these other measures are not effective. In addition to this new “red flag” on this class of drugs, the FDA has already issued warnings because of increased risk of bone fractures and of a potentially serious infection caused by the bacteria, Clostridium difficile. Previous studies have also found they decrease the absorption of proteins, important minerals and some medications. They may also cause an increased risk of getting pneumonia.

Please see the previous articles where I have written extensively about these drugs.

New FDA Warning: Risk of Infections with Stomach Acid Blocker Drugs

Drug Warning for Heartburn and Acid Reflux Medications