Drugs that are commonly prescribed- and taken without prescription- to treat acid reflux have been linked to a devestating side effect — cardiovascular disease.

That’s the conclusion of a disturbing new report by researchers from Houston Methodist Hospital, Stanford University and Imperial College London.

The researchers found that these drugs — known as proton pump inhibitors or PPIs — can cause the constriction of blood vessels. And their regular use can lead to hypertension and a weakened heart. Common examples include Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid.

"The surprising effect that PPIs may impair vascular health needs further investigation," said Dr. John Cooke, the study's chief investigator.

"Our work is consistent with previous reports that PPIs may increase the risk of a second heart attack in people that have been hospitalized with an acute coronary syndrome.

"Patients taking PPIs may wish to speak to their doctors about switching to another drug to protect their stomachs, if they are at risk for a heart attack."

About 1 in 12 Americans take proton pump inhibitors.. They are among the pharmaceutical industry's biggest sellers and most profitable moneymakers.

PPI drugs are activated by specialized cells in the stomach and stop the movement of protons into the intestine, lessening acid levels.The researchers used samples of human cells and mouse models in reaching their conclusions.

"PPIs interfere with the ability of blood vessels to relax," lead author Yohannes Ghebramariam said.

"They have this adverse effect by reducing the ability of human blood vessels to generate nitric oxide. Nitric oxide generated by the lining of the vessel is known to relax, and to protect, arteries and veins."

The report is the new issue of the medical journal Circulation, published by the American Heart Association.

If you have a problem with acid reflx, you had better find a better solution. The very princple of destroying stomach acid is wrong. You need your stomach acid. You can' t digest your food properly without, and it helps protect you from infectious diseases. Your stomach is supposed to be acid, so don't be looking to fix an abnormality by creating an abnormality. Two wrongs do not make a right: not in life and not in health. The most important thing is to straighten out your lifestyle: your diet, your weight, your exercise, and your habits (ditching coffee, tobacco, and alcohol). To get relief, try mastic gum, deglycerrated licorice, orange peel extract, or other natural substances. But avoid the phamaceuticals for this. It is not the way to go.