Long-Term Use of Common Heartburn Drug Linked to Early Death Risk
Drugs commonly used to treat heartburn, ulcers, and other digestive problems may increase the risk for early death when taken over an extended period, according to a study published in BMJ Open. These medications—proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)—also have been linked to kidney damage, dementia, and an increased risk for bone fractures.
Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis analyzed data collected over about six years on more than 6 million people in the U.S. national database of veteran medical records. Researchers conducted three analyses: One involved 349,312 people who were prescribed either a PPI or another type of medication that suppresses stomach acid, called H2 blockers; one compared PPI use to no PPI use among 3,288,092 people; and the third compared PPI use to no use of either a PPI or an H2 blocker among 2,887,030 people.
Use of a proton pump inhibitor was associated with a 25 percent higher risk of death from any cause, and this risk increased the longer the medication was taken. Researchers suggest people taking PPIs should follow their health care provider’s instructions carefully and take the drugs for the shortest length of time possible to control symptoms.