A popular type of over-the-counter heartburn drug taken by millions of people around the world may raise the likelihood of heart attacks, dementia and kidney problems, according to a new study.
The research, published last month, concerns proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, which are sold under brand names like Nexium. These are not to be confused with other types of heartburn meds called H2 blockers, which are sold under brand names like Zantac.
The latest study was conducted by a team of doctors at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, and published in the journal Circulation Research.
Lab tests showed that long-range use of PPIs sped up the aging process in endothelial cells, which make up the lining of our blood vessels.
Normally, endothelial cells act as a barrier to keep blood from sticking to the inside of vessels. However, when they become aged or damaged, they actually attract blood to bind to them, causing the potential for blood clots.
The build up of blood, or blood clotting, can increase the risk of a number of conditions including kidney problems, heart disease or vascular dementia.
Although the research team called the discovery a “smoking gun,” it merely supports two earlier studies that found similar results.
In February, a German study of nearly 75,000 people published in the American Medical Association’s Neurology Journal also found that elderly patients who took PPIs only four times per year had a 44% higher rate of dementia.
Last year, a study from Stanford University found that patients taking PPIs were up to 21% more likely to suffer a heart attack.
It is important to note that proton pump inhibitor medications are not recommended for long-term use. However, since they are easily purchased without a prescription, experts worry that some patients may take them for years without consulting a doctor.
Lead researcher Dr. John Cooke suggested that, until more is known about the risks of proton pump inhibitors, patients who need extended heartburn relief should take H2 blockers instead.
For more information on the warnings associated with proton pump inhibitors, contact DrugNews today.
Spencer, B. Popular heartburn tablets 'may increase risk of dementia, heart attacks and kidney problems. Daily Mail. (May 10, 2016). Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3582983/Popular-heartburn-tablets-increase-risk-dementia-heart-attacks-kidney-problems.html
Yepuri, G. et al. Proton Pump Inhibitors Accelerate Endothelial Senescence. Circulation Research. (May 10, 2016). Retrieved from http://circres.ahajournals.org/content/early/2016/04/19/CIRCRESAHA.116.308807.abstract
Last summer, the Department of Justice unveiled the details of an ongoing lawsuit and resulting settlement against industrial giant 3M, claiming the company had furnished defective combat earplugs to millions of U.S. troops serving around the world.