Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid and Protonix increase incidence of stroke, researchers report

December 15, 2016

Are proton pump inhibitors safe? Do they cause stroke and heart attack?

Hold onto your hats! Or should I say your hearts and maybe even your brains! Within the last several months substantial research has accumulated that proton pump inhibitors like Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid and Protonix may place patients at increased risk for stroke as well as heart attack. You may know these medicines used to treat common stomach conditions like heartburn, excess stomach acid and gastroesophageal reflux disease by their generic names – omeprazole, lansoprazole and pantoprazole.

In the most recent discovery, researchers evaluated over 244,000 patients treated with proton pump inhibitors between 1997 and 2012 using the Danish National Registry. After they adjusted for age, gender, hypertension, diabetes and heart failure, the investigators found a significant association between the use of proton pump inhibitors and an increased incidence of stroke. This comes on the heels of recently reported research at Stanford University that supports risk for heart attack as well, and warnings on proton pump inhibitors like Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid and Protonix have been issued.

While proton pump inhibitors have generally been regarded as safe when used for short periods of time, these findings raise substantial concerns and strongly increase my recommendation for reevaluation at three months and discontinuation or substituting an alternative form of therapy like Zantac, Tagamet or Tums, which is probably the safest.

Of course there are some things that can do too – like stopping smoking, losing weight, avoiding overeating and slowing down on the alcohol.

Finally, for persistent symptoms evaluation by a gastroenterologist for more serious causes of stomach conditions is prudent.

This is Dr. Jim for Be Healthy! Be Happy! hoping this message powers your path to health and happiness!


Sehested, T., et al, 2016. Proton pump inhibitor use increases the associated risk of first-time ischemic stroke. A nationwide cohort study. American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2016. Online [available at]: [Accessed December 11, 2016].

Shah, N., et al, 2015. Proton pump inhibitor usage and the risk of myocardial infarction in the general population. Online [available at]: [Accessed December 3, 2016].