The use of proton pump inhibitors including Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid puts patients at a 30% higher risk for pneumonia, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The drugs, which suppress acid in the stomach, might promote the growth of different types of bacteria in the upper gastrointestinal and respiratory tract, the authors reasoned. Or it may be that acid stimulates coughing, and coughing less may promote pneumonia, they said.
The study analyzed 63,878 admissions to Beth Israel Deaconess, Boston, from Jan. 1, 2004, to Dec. 31, 2007. Among the patients who received the drugs, 4.9% developed pneumonia in the hospital; of those who had not received the drugs, only 2% developed pneumonia.