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Long-term use of acid reflux disorder medication is related to dementia risk

August 10, 2023 – Long-term use of acid reflux disorder medications called proton pump inhibitors may increase the danger of dementia, a recent study shows.

Previous studies have given conflicting evidence on whether the drugs are linked to dementia. This latest study, published Wednesday within the journal neurologyfound that simply taking a proton pump inhibitor didn’t necessarily result in the next risk. The decisive factor was the duration of taking the medication.

The risk was evident when patients took the drugs for greater than 4 years. People who took proton pump inhibitors for that period or longer had a 33% higher risk of developing dementia. (The term dementia refers to a bunch of disorders characterised by abnormal and progressive changes within the brain. The most typical of those is Alzheimer's disease.)

Proton pump inhibitors include the drugs esomeprazole, lansoprazole, and omeprazole. Some well-known brand names for these drugs are Nexium, Prevacid, and Prilosec. They work by reducing stomach acid in people whose stomach acid flows into the esophagus, normally after a meal or while lying down. The condition is named acid reflux disorder and may result in heartburn, ulcers, or a more serious reflux disease that’s related to esophageal cancer.

“Proton pump inhibitors are a useful tool for controlling acid reflux, but long-term use has been linked in previous studies to a higher risk of stroke, bone fractures and chronic kidney disease,” said study creator Kamakshi Lakshminarayan, MBBS, PhD, of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, in a opinion“However, some people take these drugs regularly, so we looked to see if they were associated with a higher risk of dementia. While we found no association with short-term use, we found that long-term use of these drugs was associated with a higher risk of dementia.”

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 5,712 people aged 45 and older who didn’t have dementia in the beginning of the study. Their average age was 75, 22% of them were black, and 58% were women. The length of time people were followed throughout the study varied, but averaged 5 years and 6 months.

Of the 4,222 people within the study who didn’t take heartburn medication, 415 developed dementia throughout the remark period. Of the 497 people within the study who took the medication for greater than 4.4 years, 58 people developed dementia.

It is normal to have acid reflux disorder infrequently. Study 2019 An estimated 60 million people within the United States are affected by this disease not less than once a month.

“More research is needed to confirm our findings and to investigate the reasons for the possible association between long-term use of proton pump inhibitors and a higher risk of dementia,” Lakshminarayan said. “Although there are several ways to treat heartburn, such as taking antacids, maintaining a healthy body weight and avoiding late meals and certain foods, different approaches may not work for everyone. It is important that people taking these medications talk to their doctor before making any changes to discuss the best treatment for them and because abruptly stopping these medications can lead to worse symptoms.”