If you’ve ever had spicy food you know the burning sensation that can follow. You probably reach for an over-the-counter heartburn medication to offer some relief. But new research suggests this can actually harm your heart in the long run.
Heartburn is the result of acid from the stomach moving up into the esophagus. You feel it in your chest and throat, and although it can be a rare occurrence, it can be quite serious. Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) occurs when the valve in your lower esophagus weakens. Over time, this leads to bleeding of the esophagus.
Heartburn medications increase risk of heart attacks
Stanford University is responsible for uncovering the new link between heartburn medications and an increased risk in heart attack. Researchers examined health records of nearly three-million people. What they found was a 20-percent increase among those who were taking heartburn medications – or proton-pump inhibitors (PPI) – and cardiovascular risk.
Furthermore, researchers at Stanford were also conducting additional research on 1,500 people with cardiac problems. In this group, those who were taking PPIs had nearly doubled their risk of a cardiac event.
What isn’t clear from both studies is what causes the increase in risk. For example, what dosage of PPIs are safe? Does nitric oxide production slow down while on heartburn medications? (Nitric oxide is essential for blood vessel and blood flow.) In the meantime, research suggests if you are concerned about your use of heartburn medications, speak with your doctor before completely stopping them.
8 tips to relieve heartburn naturally
Although medication can help alleviate symptoms of heartburn, natural alternatives can also be effective. Here are some tips to improve your heartburn naturally, which can help reduce symptoms and make you feel at ease.
- Eat smaller meals
- Don’t lie down immediately after eating
- Elevate your head while sleeping
- Quit smoking
- Avoid heartburn triggering foods – common heartburn foods include fried foods, alcohol, chocolate and acidic foods such as citrus or tomatoes
- Try chewing gum post-meal. This may activate saliva and reduce acid
- Try a baking soda and water mix – this method shouldn’t be used too frequently as baking soda contains sodium that can lead to swelling and nausea
- Drink aloe vera juice to reduce inflammation – be mindful that aloe may work as a laxative, so don’t overdo it
These are just some natural remedies to treat your heartburn instead of reaching for medications. If your heartburn occurs sporadically, you’re probably not at high risk. But if you experience heartburn regularly no matter what you eat, speak with your doctor to check for any underlining issues.
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