Antacid drugs likely to cause heart attacks.

heartattA new study published in the PLOS One journal, has determined that proton pump inhibitors can contribute to a range of health conditions including heart attacks. Antacid drugs include proton pump inhibitors and are frequently prescribed to treat a variety of conditions, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Helicobacter pylori infection.

The study was based on the 16 million clinical documents from approximately 2.9 million patients. Proton pump inhibitors are a form of antacid drugs commonly taken by adults for a range of health conditions. Adults using the drug are 16-21% more likely to have a heart attack than people not using the antacid.

The researchers extracted information from these databases for any patients reported to have been prescribed PPIs or other similar drugs, such as H2 blockers, and then looked to see if these patients had also experienced a major cardiovascular event such as a heart attack.

Proton pump inhibitors are the third most taken drug in the US and the FDA estimates that 1 in 14 Americans have used them.

“Our earlier work identified that the PPIs can adversely affect the endothelium, the Teflon-like lining of the blood vessels,” reports senior author Dr. John Cooke. “That observation led us to hypothesize that anyone taking PPIs may be at greater risk for heart attack.”

“By looking at data from people who were given PPI drugs primarily for acid reflux and had no prior history of heart disease, our data-mining pipeline signals an association with a higher rate of heart attacks,” says lead author Nigam H. Shah, an assistant professor of biomedical informatics at Stanford, adding:

“Our results demonstrate that PPIs appear to be associated with elevated risk of heart attack in the general population, and H2 blockers show no such association.”

“Our report raises concerns that these drugs – which are available over the counter and are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the world – may not be as safe as we previously assumed,” said principal investigator Dr. Nicholas J. Leeper, a vascular medic.


Proton pump inhibitor usage and the risk of myocardial infarction in the general population, Nigam H. Shah et al., PLOS ONE, published online 10 June 2015.

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