Oct 17

Heartburn and Adverse Health Problems

This was written by pre-medical student Jorge Gonzalez with the intention of encouraging readers to take better care of oneself. The method of encouragement being used is Aristotle’s three pillars of rhetoric without the intention of withholding critical information or supplying false information. Instead, this method utilizes emotions to engage the audience, logic to make a claim, and credibility to support this claim. This following report is in reference to “Heartburn Drugs Linked to Fatal Heart and Kidney Disease, Stomach Cancer” by Newswise.

Heartburn is commonly described as a burning feeling or discomfort in the mid to upper chest area. Most find relief through easily accessible over the counter medicine such as “Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium, and Protonix” (“Heartburn Drugs Linked to Fatal Heart and Kidney Disease, Stomach Cancer”). However, a recent study shows that these drugs are linked with an increased risk of premature death with little known about the specific causes of death attributed to them.

Newswise reports these types of drugs are classified as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) which function by reducing the amount of gastric acid. These types of drugs have been linked to fatal cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and upper gastrointestinal cancer as confirmed by a study from Washington University School of Medicine and Veteran Affairs St. Louis Health Care System. Other researchers have independently linked PPIs with adverse health problems such as dementia, bone fractures, heart disease, and pneumonia.

The study followed 214,267 patients, 56,842 of which took H2 blockers instead of PPIs. After a ten year period, death rates for PPIs were 387 per 1,000 and for H2 blockers were 342 per 1,000. The researchers found a 17% increased risk of death for those taking PPIs instead of H2 blockers.

The US Food and Drug Administration has shown interest in the study as Newswise reports “more than 15 million Americans have prescriptions for PPIs… [and] many millions more purchase the drug over the counter” (“Heartburn Drugs Linked to Fatal Heart and Kidney Disease, Stomach Cancer”).

Our practice focuses on patients finding remedies from improvements in lifestyle instead of relying on drugs and medication for a duration of time that is more than necessary. A common problem found in the practice is overmedication, therefore proper use of this medication is not prescribed for more than six weeks at a time. It is important for one’s health to use drugs as these intermittently when needed. Medication is commonly recommended only for the amount of time that it takes lifestyle to resolve the health issue.

Another example would be using blood pressure medication for the duration of time it takes for lifestyle choices to reverse diabetes, which is common in this practice. Lifestyle choices address eating habits, aerobic exercises, and the concerns of having diabetes. After these are addressed, blood pressure medication may no longer be necessary.

Work Cited:
“Heartburn Drugs Linked to Fatal Heart and Kidney Disease, Stomach Cancer.” MDLinx, Newswise, 31 May 2019, www.mdlinx.com/family-medicine/top-medical-news/article/2019/05/31/7568324/.

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