- July 22, 2015
You know the feeling: that burning sensation that starts in the middle of your chest and then sometimes travels up into your throat. Heartburn.
Some 20 million Americans take acid inhibiting drugs, called proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, to treat heartburn. In cases where an endoscopy has confirmed esophageal damage, then a PPI may be appropriate on a short term basis to treat the causes of this damage, which can include bleeding ulcers, severe acid reflux or excess stomach acid production.
However, PPIs are not intended to treat heartburn and according to Mitchell Katz, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, “about 60 to 70 percent of people taking these drugs have mild heartburn and shouldn’t be on them.” PPIs only treat the symptoms of heartburn and not the underlying cause. Moreover, taking PPIs exposes you to other potentially dangerous health problems, including heart attack.
Even if you have no history of heart disease, regularly taking a PPI can increase your risk of heart attack. According to research conducted at Stanford University, these drugs reduce nitric oxide (NO) in the blood vessel walls, thereby relaxing your blood vessels and raising your risk of heart attack. To determine whether or not the use of PPIs was connected to a heightened cardiovascular risk among the general population, the research team at Stanford mined clinical data from more than 16 million medical records on 2.9 million patients. The study revealed that patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) who took PPIs had a 16 percent increased risk of heart attack.
Treating Heartburn without Increasing Your Risk of Heart Attack
While getting off of PPIs is important to your overall health, you must wean yourself off of them gradually in order to avoid a relapse and severe pain. Therefore, you must gradually decrease the dose you’re taking. Once you’re down to the dosage minimum, you can substitute with an over-the-counter H2 blocker. By implementing the lifestyle changes suggested below, you may be able to eventually eliminate the H2 blocker and your heartburn, too.
Lifestyle Changes to Avoid Heartburn and Acid Reflux
- Normalize you body’s production of stomach acid by substituting unprocessed Himalayan salt for processed table salt and take a few teaspoons of sauerkraut or cabbage juice.
- Improve the acid content of your stomach by taking one tablespoon of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water.
- Ginger protects your gastrointestinal tract by blocking acid. Add two or three slices of fresh ginger root to two cups of hot water. Let steep for about half an hour and then drink about 20 minutes before a meal.
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