Heartburn Drugs Linked with Heart Disease, Cancers

Commonly prescribed heartburn medications, also known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) were associated with an increased risk for heart disease and some cancers, new research suggests

A research team publishing in BMJ looked through the de-identified medical records in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, identifying 157,625 people with heartburn newly prescribed PPIs and 56,842 who had been prescribed H2 blockers. Patients were followed out to ten years. The primary study endpoint was all-cause mortality and the cause of specific mortality reported as the number of attributable deaths per 1,000 patients taking PPIs.

According to the study results, there were 45.20 excess deaths per 1,000 patients taking PPIs. The researchers reported that circulatory system diseases, neoplasms, infectious and parasitic diseases, and genitourinary system diseases were all associated with the regular taking of PPIs. A subcause of death analysis revealed that taking PPIs was associated with an increased risk for mortality due to cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease. In patients who did not have an indication for acid-suppressing drugs,ย  taking PPIs regularly increased the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and upper gastrointestinal cancer.

“Taking PPIs over many months or years is not safe, and now we have a clearer picture of the health conditions associated with long-term PPI use,” senior author Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the School of Medicine, said in a press release of the study results.

“Given the millions of people who take PPIs regularly, this translates into thousands of excess deaths every year,” said Al-Aly, who is also a nephrologist and clinical epidemiologist.