New Dangers Associated with Acid Reflux Medications
New information reported on Nov 15th 2016 at the major international meeting on heart disease, the American Heart Association annual meeting in the USA, has suggested that proton pump inhibitors (PPlS), a medication commonly used for acidity may actually lead to an increased risk of stroke. Worryingly, the study showed that people who took PPLS faced 21 percent increase in risk of ischemic stroke, compared with nonusers.
Proton pump inhibitors, a type of acid control medication, are amongst the 25th most commonly used medications in the world today with sales in billions of dollars. Proton pump inhibitors have been used in patients for many years and are the most commonly used product for treating medical conditions like heartburn, stomach ulcers and bloating. Common proton pump inhibitors include omeprazole (Losec ™), Esomeprazole (Nexium ™), dexlansoprazole (Dexilant ™), and pantoprazole.
Recently, concerns have been raised about their long term safety. In fact, recent studies have demonstrated that proton pump inhibitors can have a number of side effects, ranging from an increased risk for cardiovascular events, kidney disease and dementia to osteoporosis. In addition, proton pump inhibitors may also be associated with defective absorption of nutrients, an increased risk of pneumonia.
The latest study that suggests proton pump inhibitors may be associated with stroke is of more significance to the UAE where stroke is the second leading cause of disability after road traffic accidents. Recent statistics have demonstrated that people living in the UAE will suffer a stroke every hour. Symptoms of stroke include temporary weakness or loss of strength on one side of the body, dizziness or slurred speech.
The problem of side effects has been made worse by doctors overprescribing proton pump inhibitors in high doses for long term use. Moreover some doctors prescribe proton pump inhibitors where there is no clear reason to give the medication. A recent study a few years ago (2010) showed that in nearly 1000 patients, only 35% had good reasons for receiving the drug.
Dr. Nigel Beejay, a consultant physician and Gastroenterologist at Advanced Center for Daycare Surgery in Abu Dhabi and Chairman of Arab Health Gastroenterology 2017 said: “Although this study is a preliminary finding, patients should visit their gastroenterologist to ensure that the proton pump inhibitor they take is the correct one at the correct dose. Patients must be very careful to minimize their risk of stroke given that some proton pump inhibitors like pantoprazole increased the stroke risk by 94% while others like lansoprazole were associated with a lower risk of stroke.”