A Health Care News’ article reported that a new study suggests that a popular class of heartburn medications might raise a senior’s risk of dementia. This group of drugs, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), includes Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid which work by lowering the amount of acid produced by the stomach. German researchers found that people 75 or older who regularly take the medications had a 44 percent increased risk of dementia, compared with seniors not using the drugs. The study only found an association, however, and not a cause-and-effect link.
Concern has been increasing that Americans might be overusing PPIs to treat minor cases of heartburn or acid reflux. As many as 70 percent of PPI prescriptions in the United States have been inappropriately handed out by doctors, and 25 percent of long-term users could stop taking the medication without suffering increased heartburn or acid reflux, according to a study published in January in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
For more information on dementia, visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.