Nexium, a popular drug used to treat heartburn, shows an association with dementia. The word "association" is important because although the drug has been associated with dementia, whether or not drugs like Nexium actually cause dementia remains to be determined. The study which found the apparent association is an observational study. This means it is not a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Therefore it can only suggest a linkage and not actually prove that PPIs cause dementia.
The German study published in the medical journal JAMA Neurology found that seniors who regularly took proton-pump inhibitors like Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid were 44% more likely to end up with dementia. Proton-pump inhibitors, commonly used to decrease acid in the stomach, are used by more than 15 million people, according to NPR.
The study followed more than 73,000 elderly participants to track their use of the drug class and incidence of dementia, so it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship. Prilosec is made by Procter & Gamble, AstraZeneca makes Nexium, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals makes Prevacid.
Previous studies have shown that proton pump inhibitors as a drug class might also increase risk of heart disease and chronic kidney disease.
If you are a senior who is taking a proton pump inhibitor here is what you need to understand according to Shawn Bridley, a board certified geriatric pharmacist/ senior care pharmacist