Taking prescription heartburn drugs for a year or more can raise the risk of a broken hip markedly in people over 50. Heartburn drugs such as Nexium, Prevacid or Prilosec reduce acid in the stomach and make it difficult for the body to absorb bone building calcium which can lead to weaker bones and fractures. Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec are members of a class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors. A smaller risk of hip fractures was also found in drugs called H2 blockers including Tagamet and Pepcid.
A study looked at 145,000 people in England and found patients who used proton pump inhibitors for more than a year had a 44% higher risk of hip fracture than nonusers. The longer the patients took the drugs, the higher their risk. The biggest risk was seen in people who took high doses of the drugs for more than a year; that group had a 2 ï¿½ times greater risk of hip fractures than nonusers.
Most people find over-the-counter antacids such as Tums, Rolaids and Maalox are sufficient. But for others, heartburn can be more intense or chronic and can develop into painful ulcers in the esophagus and therefore they need stronger prescription medications.