Some heartburn drugs may increase dementia risk

Feb 16, 2016, 3:28 PM EST
Source: Christopher Dart/flickr
Source: Christopher Dart/flickr
A study published in JAMA Neurology this week says that older adults who use proton pump inhibitors may be at increased risk of developing dementia. The heartburn medications included in the class of proton pump inhibitors are omeprazole (Prilosec), esomeprazole (Nexium) and lansoprazole (Prevacid.) Forbes reports:
The medications, commonly known as PPIs, significantly reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach, and are used to treat a variety of gastrointestinal ailments from GERD to esophagitis to peptic ulcer disease.
Researchers evaluated nearly 74,000 adults aged 75 and older without dementia in 2004, using claims from a large German health insurer’s pharmaceutical database. However, by 2011, close to 40% of the initial cohort were diagnosed with dementia. According to the researchers, 4% of all participants used PPIs regularly during at least one 12-to-18-month interval during the study period.
When the investigators adjusted for confounders such as age, stroke, history of depression and polypharmacy, use of PPIs was associated with a 44% increased risk for incident dementia.
CBC quotes one of the authors:
"To evaluate cause-and-effect relationships between long-term PPI use and possible effects on cognition in the elderly, randomized, prospective clinical trials are needed," said corresponding author Britta Haenisch, from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn.
In the meantime, "Clinicians should follow guidelines for PPI prescription, to avoid overprescribing PPIs and inappropriate use," Haenisch said.