Study: Acid reflux drugs may lead to heart disease

Posted at: 07/15/2013 5:51 PM
By: Don Hudson |

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A warning for millions of people taking medication to treat acid reflux disease. If you are one of those people taking medicine for acid reflux, experts say the medication you're taking for one disease could increase your risk of getting another disease.

In a study released last week, researchers found that people taking those reflux medications could have an increased risk of getting heart disease.

The drugs in this study are “proton pump inhibitors” or PPI's. They're sold both over the counter and with a prescription. It includes drugs like Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium, Protonix, Zegerid, Aciphex, Dexilant, plus generic versions of those brand names.

The new study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that these medications can cause blood vessels to constrict and reduce blood flow. That reduced blood flow significantly increases a person's risk of heart disease.

News10NBC spoke to a doctor at Rochester General Hospital about what patients taking those PPI's should do.

Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein said, "We do have alternatives, but the key thing is not to say I have reflux but I'm not going to take my reflux medicines because it's going to interact potentially with my cardiac medicine. The key thing is what agent can I utilize and ask our pharmacists and our physicians that could hopefully avoid the interaction."

Experts say it comes down to weighing the risks. For example, if you have a family history of acid reflux, which can lead to certain types of cancer and other complications, you'll probably want to stay on those PPI drugs. But if you have risk factors or a family history of heart disease, you might want to reconsider using those drugs. Of course, like Dr. Goldstein said, the best course of action is to always consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication.

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