A new study has confirmed that many of the most popular heartburn medications can actually be deadly – and lead to a stroke. 

Heartburn medication, or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are amongst the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States, and many are available sans prescription over the counter. However, new data suggests that these medications may help in the short term, but create bigger problems in the long run.

The study followed 244,000 Danish adults between the years 1997 and 2012. In order to be studied, they had to have never had a stroke. The researchers then followed them up for the next six years to see how their health fared.

When the researchers followed up on the initial group, they found that 9,500 of the participants had a stroke within six years of the study. It was found that those who take heartburn medication had a 21% increased risk of developing an ischemic stroke, which is the most common and deadly type.

However, it is important to note that the dose of medication seemed to make a world of difference for this study. For example, those who took PPIs infrequently or at low doses didn’t see much of an increased risk of a stroke. However, those who took them more regularly and at higher doses saw a huge increase in risk.

For example, those who took PPIs at their highest doses faced the biggest risk. Those who took Prilosec or Prevasid at the highest dose possible had a 33% increase in stroke risk. Those taking the highest dose of Nexium faced a 50% increased risk in having a stroke and those taking Protonix faced a whopping 79 to 80% increased risk of developing a stroke.

If you suffer from heartburn, it is important to speak to your doctor about alternatives to these prescription treatments, or even the over the counter sort.

You can instead opt for low dose prescription or over the counter medication or more natural remedies like drinking 1/2 cup of aloe vera juice, or mixing a teaspoon of baking soda with warm water and drinking it. These remedies should help heal your stomach without the harsh medication.

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