That cure for heart­burn may just shorten your life

Pa­tients us­ing pro­ton pump in­hibitors more likely to die in next six years

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - DAILY MAIL Lon­don

INDIGESTION pills taken by mil­lions may in­crease the risk of early death, a study sug­gests. Sci­en­tists found pa­tients us­ing pro­ton pump in­hibitors (PPIs) to treat heart­burn were 25% more likely to die in the next six years than those who took an al­ter­na­tive called H2 block­ers.

Ex­perts said use of the drugs should be re­stricted in light of the ev­i­dence, based on records of 6 mil­lion pa­tients.

More than 5 mil­lion bot­tles and pack­ets are pre­scribed in Eng­land each year to treat gas­tro-oe­sophageal re­flux, a se­vere form of heart­burn. Many more buy PPIs – in­clud­ing omepra­zole and lan­so­pra­zole – over the counter.

The drugs are not rec­om­mended for long-term use, but doc­tors fear that, as they are read­ily avail­able, many take them with­out su­per­vi­sion for years.

The US re­search used army vet­er­ans’ records to ex­am­ine the risks of tak­ing the drugs.

The Vet­er­ans Af­fairs St Louis Health­care Sys­tem and Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity in Mis­souri found those who had used PPIs were an av­er­age of 25% more likely to die than pa­tients who took H2 block­ers dur­ing the six-year study pe­riod. They were 23% more likely to die than pa­tients who took nei­ther.

For those who took PPIs con­sis­tently for more than six months, the risk of death rose to 31%, and af­ter a year it jumped to 51%. The sci­en­tists, whose work is pub­lished in the BMJ Open jour­nal, said they did not know why this might be – and could not prove the drugs were caus­ing the in­creased risk. But they said re­search has in­di­cated a link be­tween PPIs and chronic kid­ney dis­ease, de­men­tia and os­teo­poro­sis.

Other re­search linked the drugs to the age­ing of cells and tis­sue – a prob­lem known as ox­ida­tive stress.

The sci­en­tists said pa­tients should con­tinue to use the drugs if pre­scribed, but steer clear if they were not needed. The study looked only at PPIs, and so the pos­si­ble risk does not ex­tend to other indigestion medicines such as antacid treat­ments which neu­tralise ex­cess stom­ach acid.

John Smith, of the Pro­pri­etary As­so­ci­a­tion of Great Bri­tain, the trade as­so­ci­a­tion for man­u­fac­tur­ers of over­the-counter medicines, said: “Th­ese find­ings should be treated with con­sid­er­able cau­tion. This is an ob­ser­va­tional study – its au­thors ac­knowl­edge that no firm con­clu­sions should be made re­gard­ing cause and ef­fect. The study only looked at pre­scrip­tion use of PPIs, which are typ­i­cally used at higher doses and for longer du­ra­tions.”

RE­LIEF AT WHAT COST?: Hav­ing indigestion? Re­peated use of PPIs may re­duce your life ex­pectancy, a US study has found.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.