Are There Any Links Between Dementia and Certain Medicines?

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Controversy regarding the purported link between the use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or histamine H2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs) and risk for dementia continues.

Birthdays are especially fun in the single digits, then at 16, at 18, and even at 21.

After that, a little more air seems leave the balloon with each birthday thereafter.

While each birthday truly is a blessing from God, they can get tougher physically and mentally.

For example, is “dementia” becoming more prevalent among seniors or is it just me noticing it more?

Regardless, it is not a condition you would want, especially if you can avoid, delay, or minimize it.

What if your prescription drugs were a contributing factor?

Certainly, you would want to know, yes?

Interestingly, recent research has cleared two commonly prescribed drugs previously feared as contributing to the risk of dementia.

According to a recent article from MedScape titled “More Evidence Dementia Not Linked to PPI Use in Older People,” among nearly 19,000 people, no link was found between the use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or histamine H2 receptor antagonists (H2Ras) and a greater likelihood of incident dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or cognitive decline in people older than 65 years.

Dementia development may be correlated to the taking of certain medications.
Certain medicines may contribute to the development of dementia.

For example, what are PPIs used to treat?

“We found that baseline PPI or H2RA use in older adults was not associated with dementia, with mild cognitive impairment, or declines in cognitive scores over time,” said lead author Raaj Shishir Mehta, MD, a gastroenterology fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“While deprescribing efforts are important, especially when medications are not indicated, these data provide reassurance about the cognitive impacts of long-term use of PPIs in older adults,” he added.

As PPI use has increased worldwide, so too have concerns over the adverse effects from their long-term use, Mehta said.

“One particular area of concern, especially among older adults, is the link between long-term PPI use and risk for dementia,” he said.

So, what was behind the controversy?

It seems a February 2016 study published in JAMA Neurology showed a positive connection between PPI use and dementia in residents of Germany aged 75 years and older.

The researchers linked PPI use to a 44% increased risk of dementia a five-year period.

This study was based on claims data, which can introduce “inaccuracy or bias in defining dementia cases,” Dr. Mehta said.

He commented that it and other previous studies also were limited by an inability to account for concomitant medications or comorbidities.

To overcome these limitations in their study, Dr. Mehta and colleagues examined medication data collected during in-person visits and asked experts to confirm dementia outcomes.

The research data come from ASPREE, a large aspirin study of 18,846 people 65+ in the United States and Australia.

Participants were enrolled from 2010 to 2014, and a total of 566 people developed incident dementia during follow-up.

The researchers had data on alcohol consumption and other lifestyle factors, along with data on comorbidities, hospitalizations and overall well-being.

If you (or a loved one) are concerned about symptoms of dementia, then right now is the time to have a review of your prescriptions with your physician and pharmacist.

They are trained to identify potential drug interactions that can trigger dementia or dementia-like symptoms.

While you are at it, there is no time like the present to get your estate plan in order.

At a minimum, you want to get the same fundamental “incapacity” estate plan inked just like your 18 year old counterparts.

Reference: MedScape (May 24, 2022) “More Evidence Dementia Not Linked to PPI Use in Older People”

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