Can Heartburn Drugs Give You a Heart Attack?

Friday, 14 Mar 2014 09:33 AM

By Vera Tweed

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Popular heartburn drugs may cause heart disease, according to an alarming new study from Houston Methodist Hospital. The drugs in question are proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs for short, such as Prevacid, Prilosec, and Nexium. These are some of the pharmaceutical industry's biggest-selling medications.

Earlier research found that among people who already have heart disease, PPIs may increase the odds of a second heart attack. But the new study found a side effect that seems to affect even healthy people. When PPIs block production of stomach acid, they also constrict blood vessels, which can lead to high blood pressure and a weakened heart.
 
John Cooke, M.D., the study's principal investigator, recommends that anyone who takes PPIs discuss with their physician if they need to be on these drugs.
 
"If something is needed for the stomach, a good alternative would be the H2 antagonists like ranitidine," he tells Newsmax Health. (Ranitidine is the generic form of Zantac and Tritec. Tagamet and Pepcid are other H2 antagonists.)

Editor's note: No. 1 Best-Seller: A Revolutionary Heart-Disease Cure

The mildest and fastest-acting heartburn remedies are over-the-counter antacids such as Tums or Mylanta. They contain calcium or magnesium to neutralize acid in the stomach. While helpful, they don’t always provide enough relief.
 
Two classes of drugs are more powerful and, in addition to treating heartburn, are used for ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and other conditions where the esophagus is inflamed. Each works in a different way.
 
H2 Antagonists: These block histamine-2, a chemical in our bodies that stimulates production of stomach acid. They are older and their effect is not as pronounced as PPIs, but their side effects are not considered as problematic.
 
PPIs: These inhibit a molecule known as a "gastric acid pump" that produces acid in the stomach. Compared to the other types of drugs, they have the strongest effect on heartburn and are more effective in reducing inflammation of the esophagus, but they also pose more risks, including possible heart dangers.
 
Holistic physicians often view heartburn as a sign that the overall digestive system is not working as it should. "You can get too much acidity because food stays in the stomach too long and more acid is pumped out to break it down," Steven Rosenblatt, M.D., tells Newsmax Health.
 
An integrative physician in Los Angeles, Dr. Rosenblatt recommends taking these steps to restore good digestion:
 
Take time to chew food thoroughly and don't rush through meals.
 
Avoid preservatives, because the human body is not equipped to break them down.
 
Take vitamin C (1,000-2,000 mg daily) and fish oil (1-3 grams daily).
 
Take an enzyme supplement to help maintain optimum levels of stomach acid. Good combination supplements include protease for breaking down protein, lipase for fats, and amylase for starches. Take one dose about 30 minutes before each meal.
 
Take probiotics. Probiotics, friendly bacteria in our digestive tract, are often lacking in people with faulty digestion. Take a probiotic supplement or eat yogurt with live cultures daily.
 
The full version of this article appeared in Health Radar newsletter. To read more, click here.
 
Editor's note: No. 1 Best-Seller: A Revolutionary Heart-Disease Cure

© 2014 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

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