Heartburn drugs linked to heart attacks

June 10, 2015

Certain Protein-pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as omeprazole (Prilosec) are associated with a short-term risk of heart attacks and other cardiac events, according to a new study.

Certain proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as omeprazole (Prilosec) are associated with a short-term risk of heart attacks and other cardiac events, according to a new study.

Published in PLOS One online June 10, the data mining study was conducted by researchers at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif.

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“Consistent with our pre-clinical findings that PPIs may adversely impact vascular function, our data-mining study supports the association of PPI exposure with risk for myocardial infarction (MI) in the general population,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers searched more than 16 million clinical records for nearly 3 million US adults to record incidence of PPI use and of cardiovascular risk. In the multiple data sources, the researchers found that gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) patients exposed to PPIs have a 1.16-fold increased association with MI. Survival analysis in a prospective cohort found a 2-fold increase in association with cardiovascular mortality.

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However, Shah told Reuters that the study does not prove that PPIs cause heart attacks. “Now, given the underlying biology and the effect of these drugs in reducing nitric oxide in the blood vessel walls, the observed association is not super surprising,” Shah said.

And physicians will not likely change their prescribing practices associated with PPIs anytime soon. “…Based on our current knowledge about PPIs, including this new study, we do not have enough information to change guidelines,” Mette Gitz Charlot of Gentofte University Hospital in Hellerup, Denmark, told Reuters.

The researchers also found that H2 blockers, an alternate treatment for GERD, were not associated with increased cardiovascular risk.

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