Heartburn drugs linked to stroke risk
Everyone loves a big holiday feast. But the hours afterward?
Not so much!
This time of year, stores stockpile heartburn meds like they're candy canes... and some folks pop a pill such as a proton pump inhibitor before every big December party.
It's a bad habit to have even for occasional use -- but millions of Americans aren't just using these drugs every now and again.
They're fighting a never-ending war with stomach acid and taking the drugs DAILY.
Some folks take them two or three times a day!
That's not just a bad habit. It's a DEADLY one, as the latest research reveals the ugly truth about regular use of PPI drugs: They can increase your risk of stroke.
Folks who take the highest regular doses of these drugs -- the equivalent of between two and four capsules per day -- face a higher risk of ischemic stroke. That's the form triggered by a blockage in one of your arteries
An ischemic stroke cuts off blood to the brain -- and that causes part of the brain to practically shut down, leading to those terrifying warning signs such as slurred speech, a drooping face, and loss of control over one side of your body.
If you don't get help quickly, this form of stroke can lead to permanent disability... and even death.
And if you take PPI drugs, your risk of facing this nightmare scenario jumps by more than 20 percent overall.
The risk is higher for some drugs than in others.
One drug in particular, pantoprazole (a.k.a. Protonix) can increase that risk by as much as 94 percent!
Another one, the wildly popular esomeprazole (Nexium) can increase the risk by as much as 50 percent, while omeprazole (Prilosec) and lansoprazole (Prevacid) can boost the odds by as much as a third.
The study doesn't show why these drugs would trigger a stroke, but research I shared over the summer shows how they can help create the perfect conditions for a blockage by "aging" your arteries.
That makes it more likely for fat and other junk to stick to the walls rather than pass on through, causing the ugly buildups that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
And those are just SOME of the risks of these drugs, which have been linked to everything from dementia to cancer.
There are far better ways to get a grip on heartburn and reflux problems, starting with watching what you eat.
Sometimes, the trigger is obvious, like spicy foods or alcohol.
But many folks have a "hidden" trigger, something not as easy to spot. Food additives such as MSG can do the trick, and in some folks even gluten can cause acid to start bubbling up.
A holistic doctor can run some tests that can help detect those triggers so you can learn to avoid them. And if you're in the San Diego area, I can run those tests here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.
Not in Southern California? I can also offer advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.
And don't forget to connect with me on Facebook!