OKLAHOMA CITY — According to medical records from 300,000 reported sufferers of acid reflux disease, those who use proton pump inhibitors are susceptible to higher rates of heart attacks.

News 9 – Oklahoma reported that a study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health does not prove proton pump inhibitors cause heart attacks but offers insight into a possible connection between the two.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) are a class of acid-suppressing drugs that most notably includes Nexium. Nexium and the entire PPI class are widely popular in the United States, frequently ranking in the top five most commonly used drugs.

While the study did not provide conclusive results on the status of PPI’s and heart attacks, it must be noted that H2-blockers were not linked to any heart attack increase in observed cases. H2 blockers are another class of drug that can be used to treat acid reflux.

In Dr. John Cooke of the Houston Methodist Research Institute recently published the results of his latest study. The results indicated that PPI users were 16-21% more likely to suffer from a heart attack than those who were taking other drugs or no drugs at all to combat their acid reflux.

On first glance these figures may seem to provide conclusive proof of a PPI-heart attack causation relationship, there is not yet enough research to confirm a causation relationship.

“You have to be cautious with observational data like this,” Dr. Crooke stated. “There could be other explanations.”

With findings based primarily on patient records, there is not enough information to produce a conclusive statement on PPI use and heart attack risk. Researchers like Dr. Venu Menon, of the Cleveland Clinic, holds the opinion that a study following PPI users would offer more conclusive evidence.

Regardless of the possible risks associated with the drugs, experts typically agree that PPI drugs being offered as over-the-counter solutions is concerning.

“I’m concerned that people are taking them for the wrong reasons, and for too long,” said Dr. Crooke.

Dr. F. Paul Buckley III of the Scott & White Heartburn and Acid Reflux Center, suggests that long time users should ask “Do I really need to be on this medication?”

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