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Heartburn MedicationProton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 Blockers Linked to Array of Health Issues

Heartburn Medications

What are Heartburn Medications?

Medications prescribed to treat heartburn are incredibly common, and many Americans are taking some sort of medication to prevent and treat acid-related conditions such as heartburn. The two most common types are proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 receptor antagonists, known as H2 blockers.

PPIs include prescriptions such as Nexium (esomeprazole) and Prevacid (lansoprazole). H2 blockers include Pepcid (famotidine) and Zantac (ranitidine). Both are approved for over-the-counter and prescription usage.

Heartburn medications are designed to soothe the digestive tract and relieve indigestion by neutralizing stomach acids. Currently, more than 15 million Americans use PPI medication.

Unfortunately, PPIs have been linked to an abundance of health issues, including kidney problems. According to TIME magazine, scientists found “PPI users had a 15% higher risk of early death compared to non-PPI users and a 23% higher risk of dying during the study than people who didn’t rely on any heartburn relief drugs at all.”

Adverse Symptoms of Heartburn Medications

The following severe side effects are associated with PPIs, according to various studies:

  • Increased risk of heart attack;
  • Low magnesium levels;
  • Increased risk of infection;
  • Heart disease;
  • Kidney disease; and
  • Dementia.

Timeline of Heartburn Medications

  • May 2010 – A warning was issued stating PPIs could increase the risk of bone fractures including bones of the hip, wrist, and spine.
  • March 2011 – The FDA issued a warning saying that after PPIs have been used for an extended period of time, there is a risk of low magnesium levels.
  • February 2012 – The FDA issued a warning stating PPIs could increase the risk of developing Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea. The warning comes as a result of findings from the Adverse Event Reporting System.


As with any medication, it is important to discuss the risks associated with the drug with your medical provider.

+ - References

"Information by Drug Class - Proton Pump Inhibitors Information." U. S. Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research,

Ogbru, Omudhome Ogbru. "PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors) Side Effects, List of Names & Adverse Effects." MedicineNet,

Park, Alice. "Popular Heartburn Drugs Linked to Higher Risk of Early Death." Time, 5 July 2017,

Stein, Rob. "Popular Heartburn Pills Can Be Hard To Stop, And May Be Risky." NPR, 15 Feb. 2016, 



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