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Acid Reflux Drugs May Cause Heart Disease

PPIs constrict blood vessels in preclinical study (July 10)

Drugs that help millions of people cope with acid reflux may also cause cardiovascular disease, report scientists at Houston Methodist Hospital in the online edition of Circulation. It’s the first time researchers have shown how proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) might cause cardiovascular problems.

In human tissue and mouse models, the researchers found that PPIs caused the constriction of blood vessels. If taken regularly, PPIs could lead to a variety of cardiovascular problems over time, including hypertension and a weakened heart. In the paper, the scientists call for a broad, large-scale study to determine whether PPIs are dangerous.

“The surprising effect that PPIs may impair vascular health needs further investigation,” said principal investigator John Cooke, MD, PhD. “Our work is consistent with previous reports that PPIs may increase the risk of a second heart attack in people that have been hospitalized with an acute coronary syndrome. Patients taking PPIs may wish to speak to their doctors about switching to another drug to protect their stomachs, if they are at risk for a heart attack.”

Cooke and colleagues found that PPIs suppressed the enzyme DDAH (dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase), which led to increased blood levels of ADMA (asymmetric dimethylarginine), an important chemical messenger. ADMA, in turn, suppressed the production of another chemical messenger, nitric oxide, which affected cardiovascular function.

In the U.S., commonly used PPIs include lansoprazole and omeprazole. In 2009, PPIs were the third most-taken type of drug in the U.S., accounting for $13 billion in sales.

Source: Methodist Hospital System; July 10, 2013.

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