Acid reflux drugs implicated in heart disease…

Fire heartAcid reflux or heartburn affects one in ten adults every week. This common condition occurs when the acid leaks out from the stomach into the oesophagus, resulting in symptoms such as chest pain or discomfort, unpleasant sour taste in the mouth, burning sensations, pain and difficulty swallowing.

In a paper published in the journal Circulation, researchers at Houston Methodist Hospital discovered that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) – drugs used to treat acid reflux, could lead to a variety of cardiovascular problems over time, such as weakened heart and hypertension. PPIs work by inhibiting the backflow of acid from the stomach. These drugs are also used to treat other health problems, such as ulcers in the stomach and duodenum, infection caused by Helicobacter pylori, and a rare condition called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. They are also given to patients with indigestion issues.

According to the researchers, PPIs are initially inert. After taking it, the drug is activated by specialised cells in the stomach. Once active, the molecules suppress the movement of protons in the intestine, resulting to the reduction in the amount of acid present in the stomach.

Increased risk of cardiovascular events…

Recent studies on the use of PPIs by people who have already experienced severe heart problems have raised concerns about the use of anti-reflux drugs. It seems that PPI’s elevate levels of asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), a substance produced by the body that inhibits vasodilation of the blood vessels. Elevated levels of ADMA are considered a risk factor for a cardiovascular episode or the development of cardiovascular disease.[1]

PPI’s & antibiotic resistant bacterial infections…

Proton pump inhibitor use is also strongly associated with increased bacterial infections (Clostridium difficile) which are highly antibiotic resistant. Increased frequency of antibiotic usage is also associated with increased Clostridium difficile infection. C. difficile causes bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea episodes.

Rather than reaching for the antacid, there are some simple, natural ways to avoid indigestion and heartburn. Slippery elm is very useful for counteracting indigestion. It soothes and restores the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract, protecting it from the effects of acidity. Cabbage has been shown to have excellent effects on the lining of the gut. It has been used to treat peptic ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.

Try to eat more slowly and chew your food well before you swallow. When you sit down to eat a meal, pay attention to what you’re eating. Put down the phone, turn off the TV; if you focus on your food, you may find that not only do you enjoy the meal more, but you are less likely to suffer from indigestion!


[1] Ghebremariam, Y.T et al. An Unexpected Effect of Proton Pump Inhibitors: Elevation of the Cardiovascular Risk Factor ADMA. Circulation. 2013 Jul 3.