Proton pump inhibiters (PPI’s) are widely prescribed antacid medications. Examples of PPI’s include: Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, Aciphex, and Protonix. In fact, in 2009, over 21 million U.S. adults were prescribed a PPI and sales of PPI’s grew to over $13 billion globally. PPI’s work by poisoning the stomach’s proton pump. The end result of PPI use is to inhibit stomach acid secretion.
PPI’s are only indicated for a short time period—generally a few weeks. Prolonged use of PPI’s are associated with a host of serious adverse effects including vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia, bone fractures, and C. difficile infections. Now we can add heart attacks to the list of problems PPI’s cause.
Researchers report that an in-vitro and in-vivo study of PPI’s found they caused reduced nitric oxide levels (NO). (1) NO is produced in the body to promote vasodilation. Any substance that blocks NO production may result in constriction of blood vessels which would increase the risk for heart disease.
Folks, PPI’s are not safe to use on a long-term basis. It does not make biochemical sense nor does it make common sense to block stomach acid production for a long time period. Stomach acid is a very important substance produced in the body. It is needed to digest food and prevent infection in the stomach and GI tract.