PPIs May Increase Risk of Stroke, Researchers Say

02. 06. 2017

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) provide an easy solution for the millions of Americans dealing with chronic acid reflux, but the ever-growing list of side effects has left some healthcare providers wondering if these drugs are a blessing or a curse.

PPIs are the third highest selling drug category in the United States, with more than 113 million prescriptions written each year and over $14 billion in annual sales. While PPIs are recognized as the most powerful and effective drugs for treating the symptoms of acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease, use of these medications is not without concern. Researchers have linked long-term use of PPIs to an increased risk of renal failure, heart attack, dementia, hip fractures, and vitamin deficiency. Now, new findings indicate that PPI users may also have an increased risk of ischemic stroke.

Preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association conference in New Orleans found that overall risk of stroke increased by 21 percent among patients who were taking PPIs. Patients who took the lowest dose of medication had almost no increased risk. However, among patients taking the highest doses, stroke risk increased as follows:

  • 33 percent among Prevacid and Prilosec users
  • 50 percent among Nexium users
  • 79 percent among Protonix users

Lead study author Dr. Thomas Sehested shed some light on why PPIs present such a risk. “PPIs have been associated with unhealthy vascular function, including heart attacks, kidney disease and dementia,” he said. “We wanted to see if PPIs also posed a risk for ischemic stroke, especially given their increasing use in the general population.”

In response to these findings, P&G, the maker of Prilosec, defended their product, saying the medication is “FDA approved, safe and effective remedy to relieve frequent heartburn symptoms. Prilosec OTC has the longest history of safe and effective consumer use of any [over-the-counter] PPI.”

The makers of Prevacid, Nexium and Protonix declined to comment at this time but did explain that patient safety is top priority.

Sehested added that these findings contribute to ongoing concerns over PPI safety. “At one time, PPIs were thought to be safe, without major side effects,” he said. “This study further questions the cardiovascular safety of these drugs” (Source: CNN).


Related articles:

Heartburn Medications Linked to C. Difficile Infections

Research Uncovers New Concerns over PPI Use

Previous | Next