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Heartburn drug Nexium could be harmful to arteries

The antacid esomeprazole, which is sold under the brand name Nexium, may have a negative effect on the arteries, raising the risk of heart disease and stroke.

nexium

A team of researchers associated Nexium with the faster aging of blood vessel cells, which may hamper these cells from performing their usual tasks, thus making those who take the antacid more likely to suffer a heart attack or a stroke. Their study also adds to earlier ones that have suggested those who use proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, seem to have a higher risk of heart disease.

“Our finding that the lining of blood vessels is impaired by proton pump inhibitors is a unifying mechanism for the reports that PPI users are at increased risk for heart attack, stroke and renal failure,” said Houston Methodist Research Institute chair of cardiovascular sciences and study lead John Cooke in a statement.

Cooke also warned that many patients do not use PPIs as suggested by Food and Drug Administration guidelines; for Nexium, the FDA recommends that patients go on a four-week regimen three times a year. “They are being used ubiquitously, for long periods of time,” he said. “They aren’t being used as originally approved.”

Meanwhile, Nexium maker AstraZeneca issued a statement that said that conclusions cannot definitely be made based on cause and effect, as the study was not conducted with humans in a “controlled’ setting.

“Patient safety is an important priority for AstraZeneca and we believe all of our PPI medicines are generally safe and effective when used in accordance with the label,” said the drugmaker.

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