Most people experience a little heartburn (acid reflux) once in a while. Nothing serious, right?
And why not grab a couple of common heartburn pills. Can’t do any harm, right?
Because the journal BMJ Open recently published a study by researchers from the Saint Louis Health Care System, Washington University School of Medicine at Saint Louis, and Saint Louis University that suggests that taking one popular kind of acid reflux drug will increase your risk of dying soon by 25%.
Researchers used data collected by the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs to identify people who had been prescribed a proton pump inhibitor (or PPI) and people who had been prescribed an H2 blocker.
Like PPI, H2 blockers also prevent the cells of your stomach from producing acid, but they are considered to be weaker and safer than PPIs.
The 349,312 subjects were followed for five years.
Compared with those who took H2 blockers, those who took PPIs had a 25% greater chance of dying during that five-year period.
The risk of death was not associated with any specific cause of death. They were just more likely to die of any cause.
Approximately 8% of American adults take PPIs, often unnecessarily and under almost no medical supervision. So, a 25% or higher risk of death translates to thousands of deaths per year.