New research has linked certain types of acid-blocking heartburn drugs called proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, to a number of serious health problems including higher risks for heart attacks, kidney disease and dementia. According to recent reports, what has not been as clear in the past is how these medications could be contributing to so many adverse side effects in those who take them. But most recently, researchers working out of Stanford University and Houston Methodist Hospital say they have figured it out. They say the heartburn medications do not just turn off acid pumps in the stomach but stop the production of acid in every cell of the body, having an effect on the body’s ability to get rid of damaged proteins.
How Do Heartburn Medications Work?
Heartburn medications work by dramatically reducing the amount of acid that is produced by glands that line the inside of the stomach. This could provide relief for those who are experiencing heartburn. Millions of Americans take heartburn medications to quell acid reflex and heartburn. They are the ninth most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. Top brands of PPI medications that are most prescribed include Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium.
The downside of getting rid of the stomach acid, researchers say, is that it hampers the absorption of vitamins and minerals and prevents the killing of harmful bacterial that we may swallow. The drugs already carry warnings for a number of side effects including diarrhea, muscle spasms, heart palpitations and increased risk of bone fractures, particularly among those who have taken higher doses of the drugs for more than a year.
Recent Studies Point to More Risks
In addition to these already serious side effects, two most recent studies have raised troubling new questions about the long-term use of these drugs. The first study, which was published in February, found that use of heartburn medications was linked to a higher risk of chronic kidney disease as opposed to using a different class of drugs called H2 blockers. The second study published in April, found a higher risk of dementia in people who use PPIs compared to those who don’t. Older studies have found links between heartburn medications and heart disease and certain types of cancer as well.
Pharmaceutical companies are required to make products that are properly tested and are in general safe for consumers. There are few medications that don’t have a long list of adverse side effects. However, the determination to be made is whether the benefits of taking the medication outweighs the risks and side effects. With scary side effects like heart disease, kidney damage and dementia, it seems like the manufacturers of these drugs did not do their due diligence in not just testing these drugs, but also in terms of warning consumers about the potential risks of these drugs.
Contact a Rhode Island Heartburn Medication Lawyer
If you or a loved one is suffering from acid reflux, it is important that you discuss all your options with your doctor including the risks of taking PPIs, particularly in the long term. If you have suffered serious side effects after taking these medications, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Our law firm is working with experienced lawyers in the country who are handling these cases. Contact us at 1-800-992-6878 or fill out a contact form online for a no-cost consultation and case evaluation.