A popular type of heartburn medication can increase the risk of an early death for the millions of people around the world who take it, suggests research published last week.
For every 1,000 people, there were 45.2 additional deaths among those who took proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium, Prilosec, omeprazole and prevacid, compared to those not on the drugs.
The new study by scientists at the University of Washington, St. Louis, is a follow-up to one of the group that made the first link between popular drugs and early deaths two years ago.
The team has now discovered that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are putting people at risk for previous deaths from heart disease, kidney disease, and upper gastrointestinal cancers.
Popular proton pump inhibitors such as Zegerid, Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid (clockwise) can be purchased without a prescription to treat heartburn – but this can increase the risk of an early death
More PPIs are prescribed worldwide than any other class of medicines.
They limit stomach acid production to treat heartburn.
Since their invention in the last eighties of the last century, drugs have become so popular that they are considered harmless, lead research author Dr Ziyad Al-Aly, an epidemiologist and lead research, warns that affiliated university veterans have been hospitalized.
& # 39; The misconception is that this is a safe drug category & # 39 ;, he says.
Dr. Al-Aly says that people think, "I can get it without a prescription," so that creates the misconception that it is safe, but it is associated with serious side effects and also loss of human life. & # 39;
They can combat stomach acid, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORZ) and ulcers, but the drugs have also been associated with digestive hormone imbalances, higher risk of fractures, pneumonia, dementia, lupus, kidney dysfunction.
And many of the 214,467 older veterans who were involved in the new study did not even have a documented medical need for PPIs, Dr. noted. Al-Aly anecdotal.
The researchers followed the health of the study participants for a decade.
For every 1,000 people on PPI & # 39; s, 387 died within that time.
Less – 342 – of every 1,000 who were not on the drugs died.
It's a small difference in that relatively small number, but among the millions of people using PPIs worldwide, this means that thousands may die sooner than they would otherwise have.
& # 39; It puzzles me, & # 39; he says.
It seems that & # 39; people call their GP and say they have heart attacks or indigestion and many primary care physicians think these drugs are safe, so they say: & # 39; ok, let me try you on a PPI. & # 39; & # 39;
& # 39; They do not receive an evaluation or documented indication, but they are on a PPI and they use it over and over again. & # 39;
And, according to his and his team's research, although 80 percent of PPI & # 39; s patients started with a dose equivalent to what can be sold without a prescription, it was still sufficient to & # 39; risk & # 39 ; s to manifest & # 39 ;.
& # 39; And they soon use it, or take it for months or years. & # 39;
Dr. Al-Aly says he has also encountered many patients who had prescribed PPIs for the first time when they were admitted to hospital, with the aim of preventing ulcers from being in a hospital.
It is not yet clear what the drugs do exactly, what specifically increases the risk of death in general and of heart and kidney diseases or stomach cancer.
There are no specific physical signs that a patient may be unnecessarily on the drug, except perhaps if they stop taking and have no GERD or heartburn symptoms.
But given the findings of the new study, as well as his previous one, Dr. Advises Al-Aly & # 39; caution and vigilance & # 39 ;.
& # 39; All patients and doctors should critically review the use of PPI & # 39; s, he says.
& # 39; Your life is on the line. & # 39;
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