Product Reviews
Take Action

Fight for Fair Finance

Tell the administration and Congress to stand up for the consumer watchdog that protects you from financial fraud and abuse.
Take Action
Why Do We Have Campaigns?
We're fighting to ensure you and your family can get a fair deal in the marketplace, especially on the choices that matter most: health care, privacy, automobiles, food, finances and more. Join our campaigns and together, we'll hold corporations and lawmakers accountable.

Heartburn drugs can cause dangerously low magnesium levels

Consumer Reports News: March 02, 2011 05:57 PM

Long-term use of proton-pump inhibitors such as esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid 24HR and generics), and omeprazole (Prilosec OTC and generics) can cause low magnesium levels, according to an announcement today from the Food and Drug Administration. And that, in turn, can trigger muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat, and convulsions. As we've previously reported, PPIs are also linked to other serious side effects, including a higher risk of pneumonia, infection with a bacterium called Clostridium difficile, and certain bone fractures.

The FDA's warning is based on 61 cases of low magnesium levels in people taking PPIs. Some developed the problem after three months of treatment, but most had been taking a PPI for more than a year. About a quarter of the people had to stop taking the drugs. It's not clear how PPIs cause low magnesium levels, but one possible explanation is that long-term use impairs the body's ability to absorb the mineral from food.

Bottom line: If you take a PPI, contact your doctor immediately if you develop a racing heartbeat, palpitations, or an abnormal heart rate or rhythm, or if you have muscle spasms, tremors or convulsions. Before you take a PPI, tell your doctor if you have ever had low magnesium levels or if you take the heart failure drug digoxin or high blood pressure medications called diuretics, both of which can cause low magnesium.

For more about PPIs, check out our free Best Buy Drug report on heartburn drugs.

 —Steve Mitchell, associate editor, Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drugs

Joel Keehn

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Health News


Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more