Common heartburn drugs may raise stroke risk

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement saying that the most common types of strokes are the ischemic strokes. These usually happen after clotting of blood, effectively interfering with the flow of blood to the brain. According to the preliminary study, the proton pump inhibitors meant to treat heartburn and acid reflux also increases the risks of the stroke. What’s worrying with the revelation is that these drugs are commonly prescribed to millions of Americans and are easily available over the counter.

Dr. Thomas Sehested, the study’s lead author and a researcher at the Danish Heart Foundation, said that “PPIs have been associated with unhealthy vascular function, including heart attacks, kidney disease and dementia.” He went on to explain that the study “wanted to see if PPIs also posed a risk for ischemic stroke, especially given their increasing use in the general population.”

This is not the most serious warning

The study included about a quarter-million patients from Denmark. The patients were prescribed to take one to four PPIs: Nexium, Prevacid, Protonix or Prilosec because they suffered from either indigestion or stomach pain.

As per the study, patients taking PPI recorded a 21 percent increase to stroke risk. When taken in minimal dose, the research found out that no risk exietsed or it was minimal. When the doses were raised, risk to stroke was increased by 33% for Prilosec and Prevacid patients, 50% for Nexium patients and 79% for Protonix patients.

Responses from manufactures

P&G, the company that makes Prilosec, sent an email to CNN saying that 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.”

Nexium is made by AstraZeneca. The company responded to this study, saying that they take patient safety as their first priority. The firm defended its PPI medicines, saying they “are generally safe and effective when used in accordance with the label.”

Takeda, the maker of Prevacid, was also quick to reply. Just like its counterparts, the company said that they prioritize patient safety and that all their medicines were closely monitored and regulated by the relevant authorities. The monitoring agencies do so to “ensure this information is reflected in the respective prescribing information.”

However, the maker of Protonix, Pfizer, declined to give a response to the report.

Are there any alternatives?

Medical specialists explain that people suffering from heartburns and acid reflux can effectively lower the discomfort if they were to adjust some of their lifestyles such as losing weight, quitting smoking, avoiding fatty acids as well as spicy foods.

Pharmacist NaaDede Badger-Plange suggests that if your doctor advices you to go for pills to curb your problem, the simplest alternative is antacid like Maalox, Rolaids and Tums.

The antacids provide a fast relief, though not for long. As you purchase one, you need to keenly have a look at the ingredients. Pregnant women ought to keep off magnesium trisilicate and sodium bicarbonate while patients having kidney problems need refrain from aluminium.