These Common Heartburn Medications Can Lead to Heart Attack
The uncomfortable and frustrating health condition known as heartburn is likely more than just a nuisance health condition, according to a recent study. In fact, the condition and, more specifically, the medication that is prescribed for the condition is likely tied to an increased risk of suffering a heart attack. So, what exactly is heartburn, and why is it leading to more cases of reported heart attacks? Keep reading to find out.
What Is Heartburn?
The name of this condition is somewhat misleading. Despite its name, heartburn actually has nothing to do with the heart. However, some of the symptoms are similar to those experienced by individuals who have heart disease or are experiencing a heart attack.
Heartburn is actually an irritation of the lining of the esophagus that is cause by stomach acid. The acid creates a burning discomfort in the upper abdomen or lower esophagus just below the breast bone.
Typically, the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscular valve, controls the flow of stomach acid, preventing it from leaving the stomach. This sphincter, also known as the LES, is located at the point where the esophagus meets the stomach. When functioning normally, it opens to allow food to pass into the stomach or to permit belching and then closes. If the LES opens too frequently or does not close properly, stomach acid permeates the opening and seeps into the esophagus, causing the common burning sensation.
How Is Heartburn Linked to Heart Attack?
While heartburn itself is not related to heart attack or heart disease, the medication used to treat it has been shown to be connected to the condition. According to a study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, there is a link to a medication commonly used to treat heartburn known as proton pump inhibitors, such as Prevacid, Prilosec, and Nexium. The study does not prove that the drugs cause heart attack; however, it does reveal a slightly elevated risk of heart attack in individuals using this type of medication. The study also indicated that another form of heartburn medication, known as H2-blockers, does not demonstrate the same connection to the increased risk of heart attack.
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While many researchers still aren’t quite sure what to make of the connection, many suggest that the issue comes as no surprise. These medications regulate heartburn by blocking stomach acid. As these acids are blocked, the body is less able to absorb important nutrients, such as magnesium, calcium, and vitamin B12. It comes as no surprise that this suppression causes additional health concerns over time.
The latest study indicates that proton pump inhibitor uses are likely 16 to 21 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack than people with chronic reflux who are not currently taking any medication. Before you say yes to that prescription, you should definitely consider the risks and ask your doctor for other options.