PPIs, such as Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid, are among the most widely used drugs in the world, with an estimated 113 million prescriptions for PPIs written annually, the study reports. In the US alone, some 21 million people used one or more prescription PPIS just in 2009. PPIs are used to treat heartburn. They are also used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers in the stomach and small intestine, and inflammation of the esophagus.
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According to Nicholas J. Leeper, an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine and vascular surgery at Stanford and one of the paper’s authors, the link between PPIs and heart attacks is strong enough that "we do think patients should think about their risks and benefits and should discuss their risk with their doctors." The danger extends to people outside high-risk groups, such as the elderly, they report. PPIs have also been linked to an increase risk for hip fracture.