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GERD/Heartburn Medication: Not for Long Term Use - Part I

GERD AND Heartburn Medication: Not for Long Term Use – Part I

Prilosec, Pantoprazole, Nexium, and Prevacid are some of the more common names for one of the most prescribed medications in the U.S., a drug class known as PPIs, or proton pump inhibitors. These medications are only recommended for the short term use of several weeks, yet there are currently over 15 million people in the U.S. that are prescribed PPIs regularly. Doctors most commonly prescribed these medications for gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn.

long term PPI FOR GERD AND HEARTBURN may increase the risk of early death

Recent studies have shown a link between long term PPI use and severe adverse effects like increased risk of osteoporosis-related fractures, Clostridium difficile infection, dementia, pneumonia, kidney disease, stroke and malabsorption of vitamin B12, calcium and iron. In addition to these systemic effects, long term PPI use also has local adverse effects on the stomach, including atrophic gastritis due to prolonged acid suppression, chronic H. pylori infection, development of gastric polyps and gastric cancer. It is not surprising that another recent study found that popular heartburn medications like Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid may increase the risk of early death when taken for extended periods.


As with most chronic diseases, the Western medical approach is primarily focused on suppressing symptoms rather than addressing the underlying cause. With GERD and heartburn, the use of PPIs merely suppresses gastric acid production resulting in the adverse side effects previously discussed. Unfortunately, physicians trained solely in Western medicine have very few options available to treat GERD and heartburn. As a result, they continue to prescribe PPIs for long term use hoping that their patients do not suffer any of the adverse effects.

At Renaissance Health Centre, we treat GERD and heartburn by addressing the underlying cause. To find out how, stay tuned for the second part of the series, or call 702-258-7860 to schedule an appointment.

Terry Pfau DO HMD

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