A new study has confirmed an association between proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) — drugs that treat heartburn, peptic ulcers, and other acid-related disorders of the upper gastrointestinal tract — and increased risk for dementia in older patients. An earlier study by the same researchers found the same link between PPI use and dementia risk. The drugs work by lowering the amount of acid produced by the stomach. PPIs are among the most frequently prescribed drugs, and include omeprazole (Losec), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and the over-the-counter medication Olex.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have warned people to take them for the shortest period possible, namely a few weeks, and only for serious acid reflux, ulcers, or stomach bleeding. Other problems linked to long-term use are: fractures, pneumonia, increased rates of C. difficile, low magnesium levels, and chronic kidney disease. From Science Daily:
The use of proton pump inhibitors, the popular medications used to treat gastroesophageal reflux and peptic ulcers, may be associated with an increased risk of dementia in a study using data from a large German health insurer, according to an article published online by JAMA Neurology. The use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) has increased among older patients and PPIs are among the most frequently used classes of drugs.
Britta Haenisch, Ph.D., of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Bonn, Germany, and coauthors examined the association between the use of PPIs and the risk of dementia using data from 2004 to 2011 on inpatient and outpatient diagnoses and drug prescriptions. Regular PPI use was at least one PPI prescription in each quarter of an 18-month interval.
The study population included 218,493 individuals 75 or older before 144,814 individuals were excluded, leaving 73,679 individuals included in the final analysis. The authors identified 29,510 patients who developed dementia during the study period. Regular users of PPIs (2,950 patients, mostly female and average age nearly 84) had a 44 percent increased risk of dementia compared with those (70,729 patients, mostly female and average age 83) not receiving PPI medication, according to the results.
"The present study can only provide a statistical association between PPI use and risk of dementia. The possible underlying causal biological mechanism has to be explored in future studies.