Volume 2, Issue 16
April 16, 2009

How your doctor can increase your risk of heart attack by 27%

If you take any prescription drug, hopefully your doctor gave you a list of possible side effects to look for. But did you know your doctor probably doesn't have any idea how that drug is going to interact with other drugs you're taking? It's true, and his ignorance greatly increases your risk of having a heart attack.

Drugs are supposed to go through a rigorous process to determine how they work, what systems they affect, and what side effects they produce. All of that info is on the package insert. So if a doctor just reads the insert, he/she should know what to expect, and what to look for when using the drug.

However, the FDA makes absolutely no claims about what is going to happen when you use one drug along with another. The drug companies never study this. Doctors discover it only after the fact. And what about when you use three or four drugs together? Does anybody have any idea of what to expect? The answer is no. A recent study is a case in point.

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The authors of this study looked at more than 13,000 patients who were taking Plavix after they had a heart attack. Studies claim that taking Plavix reduces your risk of having another heart attack.

What these researchers found was that any of these patients that were also taking certain proton pump inhibitor drugs (PPIs) were 27% more likely to have a heart attack than those just taking the Plavix. This is because PPIs interfere with the way the body metabolizes Plavix to its active form.

Does that mean that these 27% (3,500 people) unnecessarily had heart attacks because of the PPIs they were taking? Yes, it does. But there was no way for their doctors to know anything about it because no one had ever studied it — until now.

According to the lead investigator of this study, Dr. David Juurlink, this is a big problem. Most doctors have been prescribing these two drugs together as a matter of course. Dr. Juurlink warns that, "thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of recurrent heart attacks could result."

This is especially troubling because, as I have reported to you in the past, Plavix at $2.50 a day is no more effective than aspirin — at one cent a day.

The most common PPIs are Prilosec, Prevacid, Aciphex, and Protonix.

For reasons that are not yet fully known, Protonix seems to be the only PPI that does not have this effect. It is safe to take with Plavix.

In this day and age when doctors are routinely prescribing 5-10 different drugs to patients for everything from heart burn to heart attacks, do they have any idea at all what these drugs are collectively doing to the patient's body? The answer is no. Practicing this form of medicine is not science, it's a dice game.

If you've had a heart attack and your doctor wants you to take Plavix, tell him, "No thanks, I'll stick with aspirin." Actually, the best way to avoid a heart attack or stroke is a combination of regular exercise; high fiber diet; hormone replacement when needed (especially thyroid, estrogen, and testosterone); chelation therapy; and special nutrients like beta carotene, CoQ10, quercetin, and fish oil. You can find more information about all of these treatments on my website.

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD

REF: Juurlink DN, Gomes T, Ko DT, et al. A population-based study of the drug interaction between proton pump inhibitors and clopidogrel. CMAJ 2009; DOI:
10.1503/cmaj.082001. Available at: http://www.cmaj.ca.


Copyright 2009 Soundview Publishing, LLC

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