Latest insights into the hot question of proton pump inhibitor safety - a narrative review.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are among the most widely prescribed medications worldwide and their use is continuously increasing. Although they have been shown to combine high therapeutic efficacy and good safety profile in many studies, in last years we have witnessed the publication of many articles reporting the possible association of long-term PPI therapy with important unexpected adverse events and these observations have created alarmism in both patients and physicians. However, the majority of these studies are observational, retrospective and prone to residual confounding. Also, the odds ratio values are generally comprised between 1 and 2 and therefore devoid of strong clinical relevance. As it is unlikely that prospective randomized trials will be ever done to reinforce these associations, we can only attempt to distinguish clear- from unclear-defined adverse events from the available literature. Nowadays we can reasonably exclude cardiovascular diseases, community-acquired pneumonia, all-cause mortality, dementia and bone fractures from PPI-related adverse events. However, physicians should be aware of the existence of possible risks when treating their patients, especially the elderly and frail ones, with long-term PPIs, which should be prescribed only to persons with defined indications and at lowest dose and duration.
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