Many people of different ages often suffer from heartburn which is caused by rising stomach acid and whose main symptom is a burning sensation in the chest and throat. This occurs because of physical factors such as pregnancy, defects in the esophageal sphincter that do not prevent the rise of acid, or because of eating fatty foods and drinking carbonated beverages. The burning sensation is usually intolerable, which causes many people to take antacid medications, either prescription or OTC, and assume that they have treated the problem.
However, in a recent study and preliminary results published in the American Journal of Cardiology, these drugs significantly increase the risk of ischemic stroke, a fact that sheds a completely new light on the dangers of using them. In the next article, you’ll learn more about the findings of this study, and also a few natural and effective ways to deal with heartburn that will prevent you from having to reach for the medicine shelf.
As mentioned above, heartburn is caused by the rise of gastric acid to the esophagus that causes a burning sensation in the chest area. Antacids used to treat heartburn which are included in the Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI's) group, treat the problem by reducing acid secretion in the stomach so that it can’t rise up through the esophagus. There are few differences between the various antacids, but most of them work in this method and contain Proton Pump Inhibitors.
In a study published in the online journal of the American Cardiology Society, these common drugs are not as safe to use as they were thought to be. During the course of the study, doctors analyzed medical records of nearly 245,000 people in Denmark, aged 57, who underwent an endoscopy procedure to find the causes of digestive difficulties and stomach aches. When the subjects returned to follow-up tests after the procedure, 9,500 of them had an ischemic stroke caused by a disturbance in blood flow to the brain.
Dr. Thomas Sehested, a researcher at the Danish Heart Foundation, and his colleagues examined whether patients with stroke took one of four common PPI drugs: omeprazole, pantoprazole (Protonix), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and esomeprazole (Nexium).
Dr. Sehested and his colleagues found that there was a link between taking one of these drugs and an increased risk of stroke, since people who regularly took these drugs were 21 percent more likely to have ischemic stroke than non-users Furthermore, subjects taking high-dose PPIs had a 30 to 94% chance of having the stroke of the type described.
These results are preliminary and diagnostic, but there appears to be a high correlation between taking antacids and the risk of ischemic stroke. Therefore, if you are taking PPI’s regularly or considering doing so, you may want to consult your doctor to avoid excessive amounts or to consider alternative treatment options.
The temptation to reach for a pill when you feel heartburn coming on is great, but as mentioned, there may be several health risks. In order to avoid this problem, and still treat the heartburn, you can make use of a number of different and varied methods while also changing your diet. Just pick one of the following natural ways to soothe heartburn and eliminate the need to take medicine:
Eating bananas - This tasty yellow fruit contains natural acids which work against those that are formed in the stomach which rise to the esophagus. It is recommended to eat one ripe banana a day to enjoy its long-term benefits and to reduce heartburn.
Drink soda water – Baking soda has many wonderful benefits one of which is calming heartburn. This is due to the fact that baking soda has a basic acidity level (pH = 7), so it contradicts the acid in the stomach and neutralizes it. In order to enjoy this natural solution, add between 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 200 ml of water, mix until dissolved and drink. Drink no more than 3 ½ teaspoons in 24 hours.
Protect the body with aloe vera juice - The wonderful aloe vera plant helps not only to soothe sunburn but also burning caused by a rise in gastric acid. This is due to the anti-inflammatory properties of the juice produced from the plant, which calms the irritation in the stomach during heartburn. If you experience heartburn, try drinking a glass of aloe vera juice to prevent the condition from getting worse.
Treat yourself with Chamomile Tea - This fragrant tea helps greatly in cases of digestive difficulties and heartburn. Drinking a cup of chamomile tea between half an hour and an hour before bedtime will help relieve the inflammation and irritation in the stomach that lead to heartburn. Moreover, chamomile relaxes the body and mind and therefore contributes to the decrease in tension that also causes heartburn.