Medications for lowering stomach acidity linked to risk of dementia

  • Proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) is a class of medication commonly used to lower the acidity in the stomach.1
  • In a large study, the risk of dementia was significantly higher in patients taking PPIs vs. other patients not taking this type of medication.1
  • If you or a loved one is at risk of dementia, talk to your doctor about possibly avoiding PPIs such as Prilosec, Tecta, or Nexium.

PPI is a class of medication commonly used to treat conditions that leave the stomach with too much acid, such as GERD or peptic ulcers. It is said that PPIs are among the most widely used class of medications.1

As more people have taken PPIs, the long-term safety profile of this type of drug have come under question. In a study, PPIs were linked to a 66% increase in the risk of dementia – as reported in a study of 73,000 elderly patients published in JAMA Neurology by Dr. Gomm and colleagues.1

The study also found that the risk of dementia was 37% higher for patients who had experienced a stroke in the past; and 28% higher for those suffering from depression.1

The most common PPIs prescribed in the study were Prilosec (omeprazole), Pantoloc (pantoprazole sodium), Tecta (pantoprazole magnesium), and Nexium (esomeprazole).1

The authors concluded that “the avoidance of PPI medication may contribute to the prevention of dementia.”1

Bottom line

  • It’s not clear whether PPIs caused dementia from this study, but the increased risk is cause for concern.
  • If I was on long-term treatment with a PPI, I would look for alternatives, or reduce my dose if at all possible.
  • Talk to your doctor about your risk of dementia and whether changes in your PPI regimen may be appropriate.

GERD, gastro-esophageal reflux disease.
Source study: Gomm W, et al. JAMA Neurology 2016;73(4):410-6. A paid subscription may be required.

References: 1. Gomm W, et al. JAMA Neurology 2016;73(4):410-6.

Photo adapted from original by Mario Mancuso, used under license.

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