Treating Heartburn Could Be Dangerous

You eat a hearty meal before bed, only to wake with that familiar painful burning in your chest. You head to the bathroom, open the medicine cabinet and take your over-the-counter heartburn reliever. Maybe you are a chronic sufferer and instead of reaching for an over-the-counter medication, you swallow the prescription medication from your doctor.

No matter which type of relief you use, there’s a good chance it was a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). You may not only be relieving your heartburn, but you could also be putting yourself at risk for something much more serious: Stroke.

Medical professionals know that PPIs increase a patient’s risk for certain types of stroke, yet prescribing PPIs does not meet the elements of medical malpractice. At this time, research is only preliminary, but medical professionals are becoming aware of the risk of ischemic stroke in patients who are taking PPIs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ischemic strokes are the most common kind of stroke. This type of stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is shut off due to a clot.

Research has shown that among patients taking the highest doses of PPIs, the risk of stroke increased by 33 percent for those taking Prevacid or Prilosec. Nexium users had an increased risk of 50 percent. Protonix users had an increased risk of ischemic stroke of 79 percent.

Alternatives to PPIs

It’s understandable that people may not want to risk having a stroke to cure something as common as heartburn. It’s also understandable that no one wants to suffer with heartburn. So, what are the options? The good news is that for most sufferers, there are alternatives to PPIs that may work.

1. Avoid Dairy

It is a misconception that milk can help to cure heartburn. In fact, dairy products have been shown to make heartburn worse. If you are suffering with heartburn, do not drink milk. If you are a regular sufferer, avoid diary as much as possible.

2. Don’t Eat Before Bed

Laying down puts the stomach and throat at the same level, making it easier for stomach acids to back up. Avoid eating right before bed. Try to have your last meal or snack two or more hours before you will lay down.

3. Raise Your Head

Sleep with your head higher than your stomach. This can be achieved by raising the head of your bed or by simply adding a pillow or two to your pile.

4. Avoid Triggers

With a little bit of work, you can determine what causes your heartburn. Keep a food diary, writing down everything that passes your lips and what time you eat. Look for foods that may be triggers to your heartburn. Once you figure out what they are, you can avoid eating them.

If your heartburn is too much to handle at the moment, solutions like ranitidine — a.k.a. Zantac (which is not a PPI) — could be useful. However, this medicine also has side effects. While stroke caused by PPI does not typically amount to medical malpractice, it may, especially if your doctor prescribes the drug and doesn’t warn you about the risks. If you believe that you have been harmed by a doctor’s negligence or error in Charleston, reach out to our team of attorneys. We will review you case at no cost to you during your free case evaluation.

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