Recent reports have linked the use of certain antacid medications to an increased risk of hip fracture among people over fifty. Hip fractures can be a life-threatening injury among older individuals; one in five of such patients will die within one year of suffering a hip fracture. Of those who survive the first year, one in five will require emergency medical care, nursing home services, hospitalization, surgery, and/ or rehabilitation during this period. Hip fractures can take a huge toll on a victim and their loved ones, both medically and financially.

If you or a loved one have taken antacids, you may wish to learn more about these risks and speak to your doctor about the best treatment for you. The following will discuss the latest medical findings, what medications pose this risk, information about hip fractures, and what you can do in light of these risks to protect your health and legal interests.

JAMA Study Discovers Antacid Hip Fracture Risk

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in December 2006 reported that patients over 50 were at an increased risk of hip fracture with regular use of proton pump inhibitor antacid medications. Researchers found that the risk of hip fracture increased with higher doses and chronic use of these medications in patients over fifty.

This study, conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, found that taking these antacid medications for over one year increased the risk of hip fracture by 44 percent. Among those people who took higher doses of these antacid medications, the risk of hip fracture was 2.6 times greater compared to those who were not taking any antacid medications.

The author of this study, Dr. Yu-Xiao Yang, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology, and his team collected data on over 13,000 patients with hip fractures and more than 135,000 healthy subjects from 1987 to 2003. All of the patients studied were over the age of fifty. Thus, the risk of hip fracture for those under the age of fifty is not specifically known.

Which antacids pose this hip fracture risk?

The antacids found to increase the risk of hip fractures belong to a class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors. The following brand name drugs belong to this class of antacids:

  • Aciphex (rabeprazole) made by Ortho McNeil
  • Nexium (esomeprazole) made by AstraZeneca
  • Prevacid (lansoprazole) made by TAP Pharmaceutical Products
  • Prilosec (Omeprazole) made by AstraZeneca
  • Protonix (pantoprazole) made by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals

These proton pump inhibitors are prescribed for a myriad of gastrointestinal conditions such as GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease, heartburn/ dyspepsia/ acid indigestion, and peptic ulcer disease.

Dr. Yang, who led the antacid hip fracture study, believes these drugs are over prescribed. “Not everybody is on this medicine for good reasons,” he commented to a major news source.

Other medical experts, including Dr. Lawrence Brandt chief of Montefiore Medical Center’s Division of Gastroenterology, agree that these drugs are prescribed too frequently and are used for too long by some patients.

Why do these antacids increase hip fracture risk?

Experts suspect that these drugs increase the risk of hip fracture by hindering the absorption of calcium in some patients. To help the body absorb calcium, stomach acid is necessary. Proton pump inhibitors decrease the production of stomach acid and can block calcium absorption. Calcium is a crucial mineral responsible for strengthening bones.

Dr. Yang believes that patients taking these antacids should also take a calcium supplement to help maintain bone mass and reduce the risk of hip fracture posed by antacid use. If you are concerned about the effects of antacids on your bones, you should speak with a qualified medical doctor to learn more.

Alternatives to Proton Pump Inhibitor Antacids

Luckily, it is often possible to treat GERD and other stomach ailments without the use of antacid medications that increase the risk of hip fracture. According to medical experts, patients can raise the head of their bed by six inches, which can prevent acid from entering into the esophagus during rest. Certain foods, medications, coffee, alcohol, and smoking can be avoided to reduce the symptoms of GERD. Other types of medications, which don’t pose an increased risk of hip fracture, may be prescribed to treat this condition.

Hip Fractures

Hip fractures are serious and sometimes life-threatening bone injuries that commonly affect older individuals. In most cases, a hip fracture is the result of a fall. A person who is suffering from a hip fracture will often have difficulty moving the affected leg and will be unable to stand or walk. Swelling and bruising can also occur. When a doctor examines the patient, s/he will often find the affected leg appears shorter and turned outward, due to gravity and the unbalanced pull of muscles. Hip fractures are often diagnosed with an x-ray, MRI, and/or bone scan. The latter tests are better at detecting faint fracture lines difficult to detect through x-ray.

One of the most dangerous complications of hip fracture is pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism is the cause of 1 in 3 deaths in hip fracture patients. This condition is characterized by a sudden blockage in a lung artery caused by a blood clot, which often originates in the deep veins of the legs. People with hip fractures are at a high risk of pulmonary embolism because of the joint forces of leg trauma, forced immobilization, and swelling surrounding the fracture site, which block venous blood flow. Symptoms of pulmonary embolism include chest pain, shortness of breath, and coughing.

Other serious complications of hip fracture include bedsores, mental confusion, and pneumonia.

Hip fracture patients who avoid this and other serious complications often require surgery to treat their fracture. Hip fracture surgery may involve removing the broken pieces of the hip bone, inserting metal screws or pins to support the hip, or replacing part or all of the hip with an artificial joint. Recovery from hip fracture surgery takes months, during which time a patient is often immobilized or limited to movement aided by a wheelchair, walker, or crutches.

Have you suffered an Antacid Hip Fracture?

If you or your loved one has suffered a hip fracture while taking a proton pump inhibitor antacid, you may wish to consult a qualified attorney who can evaluate your case to determine your legal options. You may be able to seek compensation for your medical expenses, loss of wages or income due to injury, pain and suffering, and more. Our qualified team of hip fracture lawyers can review your case to determine the best way to seek the compensation you deserve. We are ready to put our years of experience to work for you. Please contact us by email or phone at 1-800-400-8182.

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