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Acid-Suppressing Meds May Boost Pneumonia Risks
Date:5/26/2009

Routine use in hospitalized patients should be re-evaluated, experts say,,,,

TUESDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- Instead of helping them get better faster, giving acid-suppressing medications to many hospital patients actually increases their risk of developing pneumonia while in the hospital, new research suggests.

In critically ill hospital patients, the medications have been shown to prevent serious gastrointestinal problems caused by the physical stress of illness. And, because the potential for benefit seemed clear and the risk of side effects appeared low, use of the drugs also became commonplace in patients who were not in intensive or critical care.

This oft-used practice, though, has been questioned by a study in the May 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. It found that acid suppressors might not be as benign as once believed.

In fact, after reviewing the records of nearly 65,000 people who were hospitalized, the researchers found that the rate of hospital-acquired pneumonia was 30 percent higher among people on acid-suppressing medications.

"What we found after controlling for other factors is that there was an association between acid-suppressive medications and hospital-acquired pneumonia," said study author Dr. Shoshana Herzig, chief medical resident and a general medical fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Two different classes of medications can reduce acid in the stomach. One class, called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), blocks acid from being pumped into the stomach, according to Dr. Mitchell Cappell, chief of gastroenterology at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. The other class, commonly referred to as H2 blockers, also decreases acid in the stomach but is not as effective at reducing acid as a proton pump inhibitor. Both classes of medications are sold as prescripti
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