A new study published in Germany has revealed that the long term use of PPIs have been linked with dementia.
The analysis included 73,679 subjects aged 75 years or older who initially did not have dementia before the study commenced. Over the course of the study (2004 – 2011), 29,510 subjects were diagnosed with dementia. More than half (59.0%) had a diagnosis of at least two different types of dementia.
PPIs are drugs that treat heartburn, peptic ulcers, and other acid-related disorders of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Their intended use on prescription as prescribed by a doctor after consultation is for a maximum use of 8 weeks at a time. However, in many cases, patients are left on these medications for years and years without review.
An earlier study by the same researchers found the same connection between PPI use and dementia risk, although the current study is larger and based on information from a pharmaceutical database rather than on medical records, as the previous one was.
The new study, by Willy Gomm, PhD, from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Bonn, Germany, and colleagues and published online February 15 in JAMA Neurology, is important, as PPIs are among the most frequently prescribed drugs and their use has been increasing sharply, especially among the elderly.
“Unfortunately, overprescribing of PPIs is reported frequently,” said study coauthor Britta Haenisch, PhD, also from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases.
According to some research, up to 70% of all PPI prescriptions could be inappropriate, she told Medscape Medical News.
“In general, clinicians should follow guidelines for PPI prescription to avoid overprescribing PPIs and inappropriate use.”
Prolonged use of PPIs has also been linked with cardiovascular disease as well as many gastrointestinal problems such as leaky gut syndrome.
They are effective for short term use in certain cases but subsequent prescribing should be monitored closely to ensure whether it’s needed or not.
If you are unsure whether you need to stay on PPIs we advise that you contact your doctor and discuss your length of therapy with these medications.