Heartburn, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease are often treated with antacids such as Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid, which are part of a class of drugs known as proton-pump inhibitors, or PPIs. They are among the world's most widely prescribed drugs, generating some $14 billion in annual sales. Researchers at Stanford University have revealed that these popular over-the-counter (OTC) antacids are linked to a 20% higher risk of heart attack.
Researchers analyzed health records of nearly three million people. The study found that about 20 million Americans, or one in every 14 people, use PPIs. Until now, they were considered to be safe unless they were taken with the blood thinner Plavix (clopidogrel). While the study did not prove that antacids cause heart attacks, only that there is an apparent link, scientists believe the problem may involve how the drugs affect the lining of blood vessels.
AdvertisementHowever, another kind of antacid, known as H2 blockers, such as Zantac and Tagamet, showed no higher risk of heart attack.
The study is published in PLOS ONE.