Tags: Digestive Problems | gerd | reflux | heartburn | ppi | risk

Patients Given Heartburn Drugs Face Higher Death Risk

Patients Given Heartburn Drugs Face Higher Death Risk
(Copyright DPC)

By    |   Wednesday, 11 November 2015 10:55 AM

Hospital patients routinely given common prescription heartburn medicines face greater risks of dying, according to new research out of the University of Michigan Medical School.

Currently, about half of the patients in U.S. hospitals are prescribed acid-reducing drugs — called proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as Nexium and Prevacid — to reduce heartburn or prevent bleeding in their stomach and gut.

But the new study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, finds the drugs boost the patients’ risk of dying during their hospital stay by leaving them vulnerable to infections that pose more risk than bleeding.

According to the researchers, nine in 10 hospital patients who were first prescribed these drugs in the hospital had a higher risk of dying while taking them than if they hadn’t received them. In addition, 80 percent of patients already on these common drugs when they arrived at the hospital had a small increase in the risk of dying after being admitted.

The extra risk of death comes from the fact that reducing acid in the stomach can increase the risk of infections — especially pneumonia and Clostridium difficile, both of which pose a serious risk to hospitalized patients.

"Many patients who come into the hospital are on these medications, and we sometimes start them in the hospital to try to prevent gastrointestinal, or GI, bleeds," said lead researcher Dr. Matthew Pappas.

"But other researchers have shown that these drugs seem to increase the risk of pneumonia and C. diff, two serious and potentially life-threatening infections that hospitalized patients are also at risk for. Our new [research] allows us to compare that increased risk with the risk of upper GI bleeding. In general, it shows us that we're exposing many inpatients to higher risk of death than they would otherwise have - and though it's not a big effect, it is a consistent effect."

The new findings suggest only very few hospital patients should start taking or continue on PPIs as a preventive measure against gastrointestinal bleeding.

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Hospital patients given common prescription heartburn medicines face greater risks of dying, according to new research out of the University of Michigan Medical School.
gerd, reflux, heartburn, ppi, risk
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2015-55-11
Wednesday, 11 November 2015 10:55 AM
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