A new study has found a significant correlation between the use of gastric reflux preventive drugs and an increased risk of heart attack. The study analyzed the use of the drugs in healthy people and looked at a sample of more than million users of the drug.
The drugs that were found that increase the risk of heart attack are known as proton pump inhibitors. These drugs act inside the stomach to prevent the enzyme that produces stomach acid from working properly. Doctors typically prescribe these drugs to anyone that is suffering from ulcers or gastresophagel reflux disease (GERD).
An ulcer is a sore that can form within the stomach. Ulcers can cause significant pain and discomfort. When a significant amount of acid is present within the stomach, the problems associated with ulcers can be even greater. GERD is a condition that affects the lower areas of the esophagus. Sometimes, the contents of the stomach, including both acid and food, can pass back into the esophagus from the stomach causing heart-burn and pain. By taking a proton pump inhibitor, the amount of stomach acid is reduced resulting in less of a chance of the acids passing into the esophagus.
The two most commonly used proton pump inhibitors are Prilosec and Prevacid. These two drugs are both available without a prescription and have been generally considered to be safe. Both Prilosec and Prevacid are incredibly popular because of the ease with which they can be used and the relative lack of dangers that was previously thought to be associated with the two drugs. It is estimated that 1 of every 14 people living in the United States takes some form of proton pump inhibitor.
It is estimated that 1 of every 14 people living in the United States takes some form of proton pump inhibitor
PLOS One conducted the study regarding the use of these two drugs. They are a peer reviewed medical journal that is published by the Public Library of Science. PLOS One conducted the study because Prilosec and Prevacid had previously been shown to increase heart attacks in people with heart disease that were taking a drug known as clopidogrel. Proton pump inhibitors had been shown to have adverse effects when taken with clopidogrel. The recent study found that regardless of whether a patient had used clopidogrel, they still experienced a 16 to 21 percent increase in the risk of heart attacks.
The study utilized a new form of data analysis to gain these results. The technique is known as data mining. It is a form of mathematical analysis that utilizes large amounts of data to establish trends and notice patterns. The study found that an increased risk of heart attacks when taking both Prilosec and Prevacid was noticeable as early as 2000. These studies are possible now because of the massive amounts of data that have begun to be stored on electronic systems.
PLOS One believes that the reason proton pump inhibitors contribute to an increased risk of heart attack is due to the fact that they can encourage the development of clots and inflammation of arteries. The enzymes that Prilosec and Prevacid block may serve other roles than just in the creation of stomach acid. More research is necessary to determine the actual reason these drugs pose such a risk.