A team of researchers at Stanford University have recently carried out a study whose results revealed that people who take certain heartburn drugs, such as Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid might increase the risk of having a heart attack. These are also called proton-pump inhibitors and are extremely popular worldwide.
It was estimated that their sales reached about $14 billion last year. There are currently more than 20 million Americans who take them.
What is more worrying is the fact that versions of some of these drugs are sold over-the-counter. The researchers realized that heart tissue might be affected by these powerful drugs after doing some laboratory work.
Following this new lead, they decided to check whether the people who took these meds faced a higher risk of having a heart attack. Thus, they looked at 3 million electronic medical records of people who took them and found a link between the two.
However, the risk does not seem to be higher than 20 percent, although this might vary from one drug to another, according to Nigham Shah, who is an assistant professor of medicine and biomedical informatics and one of the authors of the study.
Therefore, people who don’t have a high risk of getting a heart attack will most likely not face any danger. “If your risk of a cardiovascular event or a heart attack is one in a million, now it is 1.2 in a million,” said Nigham Shah.
Nevertheless, he also expressed his concern regarding the people who have higher risks of having a heart attack, especially given the large number of patients who take the meds. These people should try to protect themselves and constantly monitor their health.
Other exerts in the field were not necessarily in tune with the ideas presented in this study, which was published in the journal PLOS One. One of them was a drug safety researcher, Dr. David Juurlink, from the University of Toronto, who said that such studies can be misleading because correlation doesn’t necessarily say something about cause and effect.
Hence, it would be more useful to take a look at the person’s lifestyle and habits (smoking, drinking, not exercising) that could make them more at risk of having a heart attack than the drugs analyzed.
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