Results of a massive new study published in the journal PLOS ONE conclude that the use of commonly prescribed proton pump inhibitors is associated with a 16% to 21% higher risk of heart attack among adults. The findings follow a 2013 report in Circulation in which scientists showed how—at a molecular level—PPIs might cause long-term cardiovascular disease and increase a patient's heart attack risk. The study examined clinical documents from 2.9 million patients who received PPI medications primarily for acid reflux, and had no prior history of heart disease. The research also concluded that patients treated with a different antacid drug called an H2 blocker exhibited no greater risk of heart attack. Examples of these medications include cimetidine and ranitidine.
In 2009, PPIs were the 3rd most frequently taken drug type in the US, with 1 in 14 Americans using them according to the FDA. They are used to treat a wide variety of disorders including gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, infection by the ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylori, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, and Barrett's esophagus. The earlier research referenced in the study found that PPIs can adversely affect the endothelium, the Teflon-like lining of the blood vessels, and led to the study hypothesis that an elevated risk of heart attack would therefore follow.
Read a news story about the study findings here.