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Heartburn drugs linked to stroke risk: What researchers really found

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Heartburn drugs linked to stroke: What consumers should know

Heartburn drugs like Prevacid, Nexium and Protonix might up a person's risk of stroke, a new study suggests.


What you should know about heartburn drugs and stroke

Medications for heartburn are taken by millions and can be purchased over the counter. A new study suggests there could be a 21 percent higher chance of stroke for people taking the medications, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).

The study that was conducted in Denmark only found people taking high doses of the drugs were at risk for stroke. The finding doesn't mean you should ditch the medications, which could cause more harm than good for patients.

What the finding does mean for people taking high doses s that it could be time to talk to your doctor about other treatments for your stomach issues.

Higher doses of Protonix was linked to a whopping 79 percent higher chance of stroke; for Nexium, the risk was 50 percent higher and for Prilosec there was a 33 percent boost.

The finding was presented at the 2016 American Heart Association Conference.

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Why are the drugs used?

The drugs are often prescribed routinely for patients. Other consumers buy the medications for simple heartburn. Prescriptions are written when patients are placed on multiple medications during a hospital stay to help avoid problems with other drugs that can irritate the stomach.

See: Researchers discover why your coffee gives you heartburn

Other indications for include stomach ulcers, gastric reflux (that can also be managed with lifestyle changes),

There have been concerns raised in the past about hearburn medications when taken over a long period of time but so far there is no concrete evidence that the drugs are not safe.

Only if you are taking high doses heartburn drugs you might be at increased risk for stroke.

More: Don't overtreat your heartburn

Speak with your doctor about reducing the dose. Find out if you need the medication and exactly why you are taking it. The new study suggests, but does not prove your heartburn drugs are dangerous, but the fining is worth noting if your are taking high doses.