Healthy Living

Drugs for Heartburn May Cause Hip Fractures

Drugs for Heartburn May Cause Hip Fractures

Key Takeaways

  • Frequent and long-term use of proton pump inhibitors can evidentially prevent the body from absorbing calcium. This can result in weakened bones, and can ultimately lead to a fracture of the hip.
  • Several lifestyle changes to treat GERD include limiting consumption of alcohol and caffeine, quitting smoking, and avoiding triggers for heartburn.
  • Some specialists believe that after a few years of taking PPIs, one should switch to a less potent acid-suppressive medication.

Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), the major class of heartburn drugs, may result in fractures of the hip in postmenopausal women with a history of smoking. The results of the study, published in the journal BMJ, shows that the risk of a hip fracture is not lowered even after stopping the drug for two years.

PPI’s reduce the secretion of stomach acid, and are commonly recommended for people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcers, and erosive esophagitis. Changes in the acid environment due to these drugs affect the absorption of calcium, which is an important component for healthy bones.

Although earlier studies have shown an association between hip fractures and PPIs, this recent study helps to identify the people who are at a higher risk for sustaining fractures. The study revealed that women who are non-smokers did not have a high risk for fracturing their hips, even when they were taking PPI’s regularly. The risk is more than 50% in postmenopausal women, with a history of smoking who have been taking PPIs for more than two years.

Hamed Khalili, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, suggests that stopping the medication or switching to a less potent acid-suppressive medication would be the best option to manage this condition. Robynne Chutkan, an assistant professor of medicine at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC, supports the judicious use of these medications. According Chutkan, the best form of treatment for GERD include lifestyle modifications, such as:

  • Limiting alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding eating late during the night
  • Avoiding triggers for heartburn
  • Weight loss

PPIs efficiently control these conditions and people do not feel motivated to change their lifestyle. The risk to using these drugs is that they make individuals more susceptible to fracturing their hips. In some cases, long-term use of these drugs are necessary to manage this disease. It is important to monitor the density of bones when taking these drugs regularly, especially for women with a history of smoking.

Here are a few tips that will help you to manage this condition:

  • Consume enough calcium in your diet
  • Consume vitamin D
  • Regular exercise
  • Quit smoking