PPIs Increase Risk of Mortality From Infection in Hospitalized Patients

Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), taken by about 50% of patients in the hospital, may increase the risk of dying from infection, according to a recent study.

The drugs are given to patients to either reduce heartburn or to decrease the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, but by lowering levels of acids in the stomach, researchers speculated that they could increase the risk of infection, especially pneumonia and Clostridium difficile.

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To investigate this possible risk, researchers created a computer model using real-world risk and benefit data equivalent to a clinical trial including 64,000 participants.

The model showed that 90% of inpatients first prescribed PPIs in the hospital and 80% of patients already taking PPIs when they arrive at the hospital have a higher chance of dying than patients not taking the drugs.

“Our new model allows us to compare that increased risk with the risk of upper GI bleeding,” they concluded.

“In general, it shows us that we’re exposing many inpatients to higher risk of death than they would otherwise have—and though it’s not a big effect, it is a consistent effect.”

—Michael Potts


University of Michigan. First, Do no harm: hospital patients given anti-heartburn drugs have higher risk of dying, study finds [press release]. November 10, 2015.