If you’ve ever experienced heartburn or gastric reflux, you might have taken medication called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to ease the discomfort. These medications are commonly used, but recent research has raised questions about their potential connection to dementia.

Let’s take a look at a new study, recently published in the journal Neurology, that explores whether using PPIs could be linked to an increased risk of dementia.

The study

Researchers wanted to find out if there’s a link between using PPIs and the risk of developing dementia. They looked at data from a large group of people enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. This followed participants for many years (over 13 visits) to see if there’s any relationship between PPI use and dementia risk.

How they studied

The researchers gathered information from the ARIC Study participants from 1987 to 2017. They assessed PPI use through medication lists at different clinic visits and phone calls.

The study’s starting point was ARIC visit five, which was when many people were using PPIs. The researchers looked at two aspects: whether people were currently using PPIs at visit five and how long they had been using PPIs before that visit.

They took into account factors like age, other health conditions, and other medications the participants were taking.

What they found

The study included 5,712 participants who were free from dementia at visit five, with an average age of 75.4 years. They were followed for about 5.5 years on average.

The researchers found that people who were using PPIs at visit five were not significantly more likely to develop dementia later on compared to those who weren’t using PPIs (no real difference).

This means that using PPIs at the time of the study did not seem to increase the risk of dementia.

However, things got interesting when they looked at people who had been using PPIs for a longer time. Those who were aged over 45 and had used PPIs for more than 4.4 years before visit five had a 33 per cent higher risk of developing dementia during the follow-up period compared to those who had not used PPIs. This suggests that using PPIs for an extended period might be connected to a slightly higher risk of dementia.

In summary

The study’s findings bring up important questions about the relationship between using PPIs and the risk of dementia. Although the research showed that current use of PPIs wasn’t strongly linked to dementia, it did hint at a potential connection between long-term use of PPIs and a higher risk of dementia. It’s essential to remember that this study doesn’t prove that PPIs directly cause dementia. Instead, it suggests that there might be some relationship that needs further investigation.

What’s next?

While this study provides valuable insights, more research is needed to understand the exact link between using PPIs and dementia risk. Researchers will continue to study this connection to determine if there’s a cause-and-effect relationship or if other factors might be at play.

In the meantime, if you’re using PPIs to manage your heartburn or acid reflux, it’s recommended you talk to your doctor.  They can help you weigh the benefits of these medications against any potential risks based on your individual health situation.

An early and objective diagnosis of reflux, such as Peptest provides, opens the door to lifestyle changes, and future treatment.
Peptest can also be used after reflux treatments to assess the success or failure of any treatment. Find out
 more about Peptest and order your Peptest home testing kit now.

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