July 6, 2017 — A new study has linked the long-term use of heartburn drugs in the Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) class with up to a 50% increased risk of death.
The study was published in the journal BMJ Open by researchers led by Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ health system in St. Louis, Missouri.
The increased risk could translate to thousands of excess deaths per year, according to Dr. Al-Aly:
“When we compared patients taking H2 blockers with those taking PPIs for 1 to 2 years, we found those on PPIs had a 50% increased risk of dying over the next 5 years.”
He estimated 1 extra death per 500 people who use a PPI instead of a H2-blocker for a year. The data did not include cause of death, but many other studies have linked PPIs with higher rates of kidney disease, stroke, dementia, and C. difficile infections.
The conclusions of the study were based on data from millions of U.S. military veterans over nearly 6 years, including 276,000 veterans who started a PPI between October 2006 and September 2008.
The researchers found that long-term use of PPIs was associated with a 25% greater risk of death compared to patients who used another type of heartburn drug called H2-receptor agonists (H2-blockers).
H2-blockers are sold under brand-names like Pepcid, Tagamet, and Zantac, while PPIs are sold under the following brand-names:
- Aciphex (rabeprazole)
- Dexilant (dexlansoprazole)
- Nexium (esomeprazole)
- Prevacid (lansoprazole)
- Prilosec (omeprazole)
- Protonix (pantoprazole)
- Vimovo (naproxen / esomeprazole)
- Zegerid (omeprazole / sodium bicarbonate)
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