Leading heartburn drugs linked to dementia

February 24, 2016

Seniors who regularly took leading heartburn drugs such as Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid (Takeda Pharmaceuticals) were 44% more likely to end up with dementia, according to a new study.

Seniors who regularly took leading heartburn drugs such as Nexium (AstraZeneca), Prilosec (Procter & Gamble), and Prevacid (Takeda Pharmaceuticals) were 44% more likely to end up with dementia, according to a new study.

Published in the medical journal JAMA Neurology, German researchers reviewed prescription and medical diagnoses data on 73,679 patients aged 75 years or older and free of dementia at baseline.

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Patients receiving proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) regularly had a “significantly increased risk of incident dementia compared with the patients not receiving PPI medication”, researchers wrote.

“The avoidance of PPI medication may prevent the development of dementia,” they wrote. “This finding is supported by recent pharmacoepidemiological analyses on primary data and is in line with mouse models in which the use of PPIs increased the levels of β-amyloid in the brains of mice.” 

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“This is a very important issue given the very high prevalence of pharmacological drugs’ long-term use in elderly populations that have a very high risk of dementia,” wrote Lewis H. Kuller, MD, DrPH, of the University of Pittsburg in an editorial accompanying the study. “Whether PPIs actually cause an increase in the risk of dementia is therefore an important question requiring further evaluation.”

However, the researchers’ use of a large administrative (insurance) database restricts the quality of the diagnosis of dementia and types of dementia, according to Kuller. “The availability of their prior study with a smaller sample size but a more detailed evaluation of dementia enhances the possible validity of their conclusions.”

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