Study Shows PPIs May Be Tied to Heart Risk
According to a new study, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), a type of medication taken by many people to control acid reflux and heartburn, may put us at a higher risk of heart disease and heart attack. The study, published the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, raises more questions about the safety of these drugs, which are frequently prescribed as long-term treatments for acid reflux.
How Can PPIs Cause Cardiovascular Problems?
In studies of mouse and human tissues, researchers found that PPI use increased ADMA, a chemical messenger considered a risk factor in cardiovascular disease. ADMA makes our blood vessels less capable of producing nitric oxide, which protects the artery walls by helping the blood vessels relax. Our blood vessels need to be able to relax to regulate blood flow, but according to the results of this study, PPIs may constrict our blood vessels and make them unable to relax, increasing the risk of heart problems.
This isn’t the first time that studies have linked PPIs to health problems. Past research has indicated that PPI use may increase the risk of pneumonia, C. difficile infection (which can cause severe diarrhea and intestinal infection) and bone fracture.
What Does This Study Mean for Me?
Because much of this study was performed on mouse models, more research is needed to determine if the outcome of this research applies directly to humans. Researchers have called for PPIs to be studied on a larger scale to determine if they put us at a significant risk of heart problems.
However, researchers are confident of the link, and this study backs up previous research that tied PPIs to heightened heart risk in those who had already experienced cardiovascular problems. This calls into question the safety of a variety of commonly used over-the-counter and prescription brand name acid reflux medications, including:
PPIs can also be found under generic names like:
Though the research on this subject is not yet conclusive, the author of the study suggests that the research is clear enough that those who take PPIs may want to discuss the use of these medications with their doctors, especially if they have other heart disease risk factors or a family history of heart disease. PPIs are often valuable to those with GERD and a family history of Barrett’s esophagus or esophageal cancer, but other treatments like acid reflux surgery can offer a permanent solution without the potential heart risks.