A study done by the Danish Heart Foundation and reported in 2016 is bringing to light a possibly increased risk of ischemic stroke from a class of drugs used by many Americans today. These are the Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s), which are used to shut down stomach acid production by the body. The class includes 6 different drugs and some of them are among the most used drugs on the market. Nexium (esomeprazole), Prilosec (omeprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole), Dexilant (dexlansoprazole), Protonix (pantoprazole), and Aciphex (rabeprozole) are the drugs which were studied.
The leading theory on why this happens is that the PPI’s reduce the production of nitric oxide in the body, which can lead to endothelial dysfunction (in the veins and arteries). This is not the first study to detect an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, but is the first to detect stroke risk.
The increased risk was detected in an observational study and as such is not definitive. It must be followed up with more thorough studies, but the researchers found a dose-related increased risk with 4 proton pump inhibitors. They did not find extra risk in the other class of antacid type drugs called H-2 blockers. Tagamet, Pepcid, and Zantac are in the H-2 blocker class.
These drugs are approved for use under the direction of a physician for no more than 6 months, although they are frequently used indefinitely with the doctor’s permission. To further complicate the problem, some are now over the counter. These forms are only supposed to be used for no more than 14 days every 4 months without authorization from your doctor.
There are certainly situations in which the chronic use of these drugs is appropriate, but if you are taking one of the PPI’s routinely for simple indigestion or heartburn, there are safer options. The H-2 blockers would be preferred for long-term use over the PPI’s, and there are some natural products which can be used.
For people with digestive issues, sometimes the acid in the stomach is not the actual problem. Digestion of food is driven by the acid and also by various digestive enzymes secreted primarily by the pancreas, stomach, and salivary glands. When these enzymes are missing or low, the food takes a long time to be digested, resulting in indigestion and heartburn. Unless your problem is acid reflux affecting the esophagus, a trial of digestive enzymes might be the answer to your problem.
Ask us at Pharmacy Solutions about the best digestive enzyme product for you to try.