Acid suppression therapy (AST), composed of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), histamine-2 receptor blockers, and antacids, is one of the most common medication groups used in the United States. Long-term AST is concerning, however, because it is linked with an increased risk of community-acquired pneumonia, infections, bone fractures, and nutritional deficiencies. The potentially harmful biological and economic consequences associated with the improper use of acid suppression medications presents a great deal of risk to those in underserved communities. We sought to determine the prevalence of AST in an underserved population and the common diagnoses and symptoms associated with therapy. In addition, we studied the frequency of suboptimal usage of PPIs in an indigent care population and the potential factors related to high-risk behaviors.
The study was a cross-sectional study using a survey that was distributed to participants during their regularly scheduled visits to a public sector provider of health care for low-income patients.
Of the 176 participants surveyed, 70 (40%) were using AST. Esophagitis and gastroesophageal reflux disease were the most prevalent in our sample population. PPIs were the most common acid suppression medication used in our population. Of those using PPIs, 85% were never instructed to cease use. Of the 27 patients with PPI prescriptions, 26 used it in a suboptimal manner, and of those without prescriptions, 7 used it in a suboptimal manner.
ASTs are prevalent in low-income populations, and patients are not being managed appropriately to minimize their risk for complications of AST.