In a new study published in JAMA Neurology, researchers have found a relationship between long-term daily proton pump inhibitor (PPI) use and dementia among seniors. Although more investigation is necessary, this study adds one more potential risk to the use of these medications, which include well-recognized brand names such as Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid.
Research: PPIs are one of the causes of dementia
In February 2016, JAMA Neurology, a peer-reviewed AMA medical journal, published research titled Association of Proton Pump Inhibitors With Risk of Dementia, suggesting a causal relationship between PPI use and dementia for older adults. In fact, in their conclusion researchers clearly stated: “The avoidance of PPI medication may prevent the development of dementia.”
The study commenced in 2004 tracking about 74,000 older adults without dementia at the time, using data provided by a large health insurer in Germany. This insurer’s database contains potentially half of all the elderly adults in Germany, and of those studied – almost 3,000 patients were daily, long-term PPI users. The results of the data study indicated a 44% increase in the risk of dementia relative to those elderly patients not taking PPIs.
The increasing risks associated with PPI use
More study will be necessary to validate that PPI use is one of the causes of dementia, but this research is just the latest to highlight the potential risks associated with long-term daily PPI use. Dr. Tom DeMeester raised the alarm in his May, 2013 article, The Warning on the Pill’s Label Says Use for 14 Days, that was published at the Huffington Post:
“The FDA warns that the long-term use of PPIs is associated with decreased calcium absorption, leading to bone fractures, decreased absorption of magnesium leading to hypomagnesemia and heart arrhythmias, increased incidence of pneumonia, and increased incidence of Clostridium difficile infections.”
In addition to the current study suggesting that PPIs are one of the causes of dementia, other health risks have been found since Dr. DeMeester’s article was published in 2013:
Increased risk of heart attack
The Stanford University School of Medicine published research indicating that daily long-term use of PPI medications elevated the risk of heart attacks. This new study “indicates that PPI use was associated with a roughly 20 percent increase in the rate of subsequent heart-attack risk among all adult PPI users.”
Increased risk of chronic kidney disease
Research published in JAMA Internal Medicine Journal found that the long-term use of PPIs may be associated with kidney damage. According to lead researcher and author, Dr. Morgan Grams a Nephrologist at Johns Hopkins University, “People who use proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have a 20 percent to 50 percent higher risk of chronic kidney disease compared with nonusers.”
Is PPI use worth the risks?
RefluxMD and its medical advisors have been encouraging treatment alternatives for acid reflux disease whenever possible. Recognizing that these powerful antireflux medications have been a blessing for some, they only mask the symptoms of GERD. They do not stop reflux and they cannot stop disease progression to Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.
As Dr. DeMeester noted in his article, “According to a study by Dr. Blair Jobe at the University of Pittsburg, PPI-treated GERD patients, who have mild or absent symptoms while on the medication, were 60 percent more likely to have Barrett’s esophagus, a precancerous condition, than those with more severe symptoms while on the medication. Disappointedly, a good response to the medication does not eliminate the risk of cancer.”
Isn’t it time to consider a healthier and safer treatment approach to GERD?
The evidence is compelling and concerning – long-term daily use of PPIs appears to increase the risk of serious illness or even death. RefluxMD agrees with the NIH, Mayo Clinic, and almost every GERD expert: recognize the signs of acid reflux disease early, and focus on making the necessary diet and lifestyle changes to reduce symptoms and stop further disease progression. This includes:
- Maintain a BMI of 24 or less.
- Adopt a GERD-friendly diet.
- Make the necessary lifestyle changes.
- Use less-powerful medicines such as antacids and H2 blockers – but only as needed.
- Always work with your doctor if you are stopping PPIs and follow a step-down process under your doctor’s care.
If your doctor is telling you that your only treatment option is daily PPI medications for life, get a second opinion from a GERD expert. It’s time for you to take charge of your disease and be responsible for the quality of your life in the future. Start today by completing RefluxMD’s online GERD stage assessment and download a free personalized 18-page report. You can do this – get started now!