Dementia Concerns: Prolonged Acid Reflux Medication Usage Associated with Higher Risk
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Dementia Concerns: Prolonged Acid Reflux Medication Usage Associated with Higher Risk

Certain medications used long-term to treat gastroenteritis and acid-related disorders have been linked with a higher risk of dementia.

The study, which was released in the journal Neurology on Wednesday, analyzed information collected from more than 5,700 participants without dementia at the outset and found that individuals who took proton pump inhibitors for at least 4 and half years had a 33% greater chance of developing dementia compared to those who did not take the medications.

The study did not conclude that these drugs cause dementia; it only found a correlation between their use and an increased risk of developing dementia.

The researchers did not discover a correlation between shorter-term use and an increased risk of dementia.

Gerd and Acid Reflux

Proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, such as Prevacid, Prilosec, and Nexium, are prescribed for controlling the symptoms of acid reflux as well as a more severe form known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, whereby stomach contents migrate back up into the esophagus. 

Among other symptoms, these conditions may trigger heartburn, nausea, and regurgitation, which can lead to more severe complications such as difficulty swallowing or bleeding in the digestive tract.

The probability of developing esophageal cancer is marginally increased in individuals with GERD.

Previous studies have suggested a link between PPI use and an increased risk of stroke, fractures of the bones, and chronic kidney disease, and the researchers sought to determine if the drugs may also be linked to dementia, which affects approximately one-third of 85-year-old adults.

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Other Variables May Contribute to Dementia

The study may not have completely accounted for all variables that contribute to dementia risk.

According to Gregory Day, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, a poor diet as well as lack of exercise are linked to acid reflux and dementia.

Research indicates that chronic tension may be associated with dementia.

In addition to disrupting sleep, GERD has been shown to increase the risk of dementia.


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