Acid Reflux Drugs May Lead To Heart Disease, Says Houston Study

In mouse models and human tissue cultures, Methodist Hospital researchers found that proton pump inhibitors , or PPIs, caused the constriction of blood vessels that could lead to a variety of cardiovascular problems if taken for a prolonged period of time. Those problems include hypertension and a weakened heart. We found that PPIs interfere with the ability of blood vessels to relax, said Yohannes Ghebramariam, a Methodist molecular biologist and the studys first author. PPIs have this adverse effect by reducing the ability of human blood vessels to generate nitric oxide, (which) is known to relax, and to protect, arteries and veins. Previous research has suggested proton pump inhibitors might increase the risk of a second heart attack in people who have been hospitalized with an acute coronary syndrome. The Methodist study , now online at the journal Circulation, is the first to show what likely is actually happening. Dr. John Cooke, chair of Methodists cardiovascular services and the studys principal investigator, suggested that patients taking PPIs may wish to speak to their doctors about switching to another drug (to) protect their stomachs, if they are at risk for a heart attack. He called for a broad, large-scale study to determine whether the drugs are dangerous. Proton pump inhibitors, such as Prilosec,Prevacid and Nexium, are used to prevent gastroesophageal acid reflux, or severe heartburn. Available both over the counter and with a prescription, they are the third highest-selling class of drugs in the United States. The study adds to a host of concerns about PPIs, already the subject of numerous Food and Drug Administration warnings specifically for associations with an increased risk of bone fractures and an infection, Clostridium difficile, particularly dangerous in elderly patients. Studies also have found they may reduce the absorption of important nutrients, vitamins and minerals, as well as medications, and that they may leave users at increased risk of developing pneumonia. Methodist researchers found proton pump inhibitors reduced the ability of mouse blood vessels to relax by more than 30 percent. get more