Popular Heartburn Medication May Increase Stroke Risk
Heartburn is one of the most common types of ailments. While a regular antacid may work for occasional flare-ups, doctors often recommend medicines such as Prilosec and Nexium for those who suffer from heartburn more than a few times a week. Unfortunately, with increasing numbers of people taking these medications, there are reports regarding dangerous drug side effects that can lead to even more serious and potentially fatal conditions. If you or someone you care about is one of the millions of Americans taking heartburn medication daily, the following is important information to be aware of regarding the risks.
Heartburn and Proton Pump Inhibitors
Most of us are familiar with that burning pain in our chest that comes from eating the wrong foods or overdoing it with soda and alcoholic beverages. According to the Mayo Clinic, heartburn, or acid reflux, results from a backup of stomach acid in the esophagus, which is the tube that allows food to pass from your mouth to your stomach. If you suffer infrequently from heartburn, your doctor will likely recommend an antacid. These medicines, such as Tums or Rolaids, act immediately to neutralize stomach acid, though the effects are temporary.
If you experience acid reflux more frequently, or if your esophagus has been injured by stomach acid, your doctor may prescribe a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), which reduces the amount of acid your stomach produces. PPIs are taken daily for a period of several weeks, and include popular brands such as Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid.
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Risks Associated With PPIs
PPIs are one of the most commonly used medications in the country, available either over the counter or in prescription form from your doctor. While many patients and physicians praise the effectiveness of these medications in treating acid reflux, there have been ongoing concerns about potential risks and side effects. A November 2016 CNN report states that while there have been several reported cases of kidney problems, including kidney failure and bacterial infections among patients taking PPIs over the last several years, new research indicates that taking the medication daily may lead to an increased risk for Ischemic stroke.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports these are the most common type of stroke, caused by a blockage or blood clot in the arteries that carry oxygen rich blood to the brain. Signs of ischemic stroke include:
- Sudden, severe headaches
- Confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding what is spoken
- Problems seeing out of one or both eyes
- Difficulty walking or maintaining balance
Risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and a family history of stroke. If you have any of the risk factors, speak with your doctor about the potential dangers of taking PPIs.
Our South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney Can Assist You
If you suspect that someone you care about has suffered adverse health effects as the result of a medication, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm today. We provide the professional legal representation you need to hold drug manufacturers accountable and can assist you in getting the compensation you deserve. We have offices in Charleston and throughout South Carolina. Call or contact us online today for a free case consultation.