Public Release: 

Taking proton pump inhibitors not linked to higher dementia risk

American Geriatrics Society

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are medicines commonly prescribed to treat acid-related digestive problems, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD). As of 2011, up to 1 in 5 older adults reported using a PPI. Although healthcare practitioners have long believed that PPIs are safe, recent studies have linked PPIs to potential risks, including fractures and kidney disease. Some studies also have linked PPIs to an increased risk for dementia among older adults. However, several experts have suggested that these studies may not correctly measure the connection.

In a new research article published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, scientists were able to conclude that developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease (the most common form of dementia) did not appear to be linked to taking PPIs.

The researchers reviewed information from the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study, which included 3,484 adults aged 65 and older. Participants did not have dementia at the beginning of the study and were followed for an average of about 7.5 years.

Researchers tested participants for dementia at the beginning of the study and then every two years. Those who tested positive were given complete evaluations to measure their abilities to think and make decisions. Researchers gave the participants who were diagnosed with dementia follow-up tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Researchers used information from the ACT study to learn how many participants took PPIs and for how long. Overall, almost 24 percent of study participants developed dementia. Of these individuals, just 670 people developed possible or probable Alzheimer's disease. While other safety concerns with long-term PPI use exist, the researchers conluded that results from this study suggest that dementia is not linked to taking a PPI.

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If you're concerned about these or any other risks associated with PPIs or your other medications, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to review your treatment routines. You and your care team can work together to determine whether any changes are in order. Just remember: Never change your medication or discontinue a treatment before speaking to a healthcare provider first. If you're worried you may be experiencing a serious side effect, seek medical attention by calling 911 immediately.

This summary is from "Proton Pump Inhibitor Use and Dementia Risk: Prospective Population Based Study". It appears online ahead of print in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study authors are Shelly L. Gray, PharmD, MS; Rod L. Walker, MS; Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD; Onchee Yu, MS; Erin J. Aiello Bowles, MPH; Melissa L. Anderson, MS; Paul K. Crane, MD, MPH; and Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH.

About the Health in Aging Foundation

This research summary was developed as a public education tool by the Health in Aging Foundation. The Foundation is a national non-profit established in 1999 by the American Geriatrics Society to bring the knowledge and expertise of geriatrics healthcare professionals to the public. We are committed to ensuring that people are empowered to advocate for high-quality care by providing them with trustworthy information and reliable resources. Last year, we reached nearly 1 million people with our resources through HealthinAging.org. We also help nurture current and future geriatrics leaders by supporting opportunities to attend educational events and increase exposure to principles of excellence on caring for older adults. For more information or to support the Foundation's work, visit http://www.HealthinAgingFoundation.org.

About the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Included in more than 9,000 library collections around the world, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS) highlights emerging insights on principles of aging, approaches to older patients, geriatric syndromes, geriatric psychiatry, and geriatric diseases and disorders. First published in 1953, JAGS is now one of the oldest and most impactful publications on gerontology and geriatrics, according to ISI Journal Citation Reports®. Visit wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/JGS for more details.

About the American Geriatrics Society

Founded in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics healthcare professionals that has--for 75 years--worked to improve the health, independence, and quality of life of older people. Its nearly 6,000 members include geriatricians, geriatric nurses, social workers, family practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and internists. The Society provides leadership to healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public by implementing and advocating for programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy. For more information, visit AmericanGeriatrics.org.

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