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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Popular Heartburn Drugs Linked To Dementia

These overprescribed drugs have been linked to dementia.
The link between asthma and GERD and heartburn has been known for quite some time now. There's also a known link between COPD and the stomach. Many of these patients find themselves taking a daily dose of proton pump inhibitors such as Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid.

However, a new study suggests that these drugs may cause dementia, with the risk increasing with age. Those over the age of 75 who take these medicines have a 40% increased risk for developing dementia compared to those who do not take them. That's a pretty significant risk, enough so that some doctors are now sharing this information with their patients, giving them the choice whether or not to continue using them. 

Interestingly, another type of antacid, H2 blockers, have also been linked with dementia. These include medicines like Tagamet, Pepcid and Zantac. 

Researchers are not sure why these popular stomach acid reducers might lead to dementia. One theory suggests that they may cross the blood brain barrier and affect brain enzymes. They may impact the gene that encodes the protein beta amyloid, causing increased beta amyloid levels in the brain. 

Beta amyloid has already been shown to builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer's Disease, and is a biomarker for predicting who will get that disease. They believe that when in abundance, it may destroy synapses before forming plaques that cause nerve cells to die. 

However, what is known is that up to 75% of patients currently prescribed them do not even need them, and 25% of these patients could probably stop taking them without facing any consequences. 

This is another one of those situations where the potential risks must be weighed against the potential benefits. If you stop taking them and experience worsening stomach trouble, then you should probably continue taking it. However, if you stop and feel fine, then you probably could do fine without them.

As usual, do not stop taking any medicine without first consulting with your doctor. 

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