Long-term heartburn medication use tied to higher risk of early death

Long-use use flagged

In Tuesday’s issue of BMJ Open, Al-Aly and his co-authors evaluated the relationship between how long people took PPI drugs and risk of death, and found a higher risk of death with longer use.

The researchers cautioned that the results should not deter prescribing and use of PPI when there’s a clear medical reason for them.





“These medications in the right context when patients need them, they actually could save lives,” Al-Aly said.  “So what we generally advocate is a very careful risk/benefit analysis in each individual to determine if the risk outweighs the benefit in any individual patient. That naturally has to be done by their physician.”

If 500 patients took proton pump inhibitor medication for about a year, there would be one excess death that could be attributed to the drug, says Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly. (CBC)

The study’s authors also suggested that regularly reviewing use of prescription and over-the-counter medications could be worthwhile.

For instance, they pointed to previous U.S. studies which estimate that between half to 69 per cent of PPI prescriptions are for “inappropriate indications.”



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