A new German study suggests a common class of medications used to treat gastroesophageal reflux and peptic ulcers may be associated with an increased risk of dementia.
Researcher found the link between proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), a group of drugs whose main action is a pronounced and long-lasting reduction of gastric acid production, and dementia in a study using data from a large insurance company.
Common PPIs include Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid, drugs that limit acid secretion.
Study findings have been published online by JAMA Neurology.
Researchers note that the use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) has increased among older patients and PPIs are among the most frequently used classes of drugs.
Britta Haenisch, Ph.D., of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn, and coauthors examined the association between the use of PPIs and the risk of dementia using data from 2004 to 2011 on inpatient and outpatient diagnoses and drug prescriptions.
Regular PPI use was defined as at least one PPI prescription in each quarter of an 18-month interval.
Researchers followed 73,679 individuals 75 or older and identified 29,510 patients who developed dementia during the study period.
Regular users of PPIs (2,950 patients, mostly female and average age nearly 84) had a 44 percent increased risk of dementia compared with those (70,729 patients, mostly female and average age 83) not receiving PPI medication, according to the results.
Limitations to the study include the authors only being able to integrate some other risk factors for dementia into the analysis from the data.
Researchers say their findings display an association or correlation between PPI use and dementia. They recommend future studies that may be able to clarify if a cause and effect relationship exists.
“The present study can only provide a statistical association between PPI use and risk of dementia. The possible underlying causal biological mechanism has to be explored in future studies,” noted Haenisch and colleagues.
“To evaluate and establish direct cause and effect relationships between PPI use and incident dementia in the elderly, randomized, prospective clinical trials are needed.”