Study suggests proton pump inhibitors could aggravate acid trouble
TUESDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- Drugs commonly used to treat heartburn and acid reflux may actually cause heartburn.
A new study in the July issue of Gastroenterology found that treatment with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) actually produced heartburn, acid reflux and indigestion in healthy volunteers who took the medication for eight weeks.
Although the findings don't necessarily mean that PPIs don't have a valid place in the gastrointestinal armamentarium, they do strongly suggest that overprescribing may be causing harm, the study authors said.
"It is beyond any doubt that subjects with reflux disease benefit from and need treatment with acid suppressive drugs," said study lead author Dr. Cristina Reimer of Copenhagen University in Denmark. "But it is equally beyond doubt that PPIs are prescribed more or less uncritically for a wide variety of symptoms where the initial effect of the drug is doubtful.
"The findings in our study [indicate that] this liberal prescribing is likely to create the disease the drugs are designed to treat," she continued. "Patients who are treated on uncertain indication thus risk developing a true need for continued therapy. Our findings challenge the very liberal prescribing of these drugs, and this study should lead to careful consideration about possible changes in prescribing habits."
According to an accompanying editorial in the journal, about 5 percent of the developed world's population now uses PPIs.
And more people are using the drugs long-term, although this should only occur when a person has severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or to prevent problems in people taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin, which can be hard on the stomach, the researchers said.
But according to the study authors, about one-third of patients who
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