Inside Your Health: Acid reflux and dementia

Inside Your Health: Acid reflux medication and dementia

Dr. Georgiou looks at a study involving acid reflux medicine and those who suffer from dementia.

More than 15 million Americans use heartburn medication every year. A new study from the University of Minnesota shows there may be a link between these medications and cognitive problems like dementia.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS anchor Paul Folger sat down with KSTP health expert Dr. Archelle Georgiou to discuss the study.

Heartburn medications typically contain proton pump inhibitors (PPI), which work by turning off the supply of stomach acid that your body uses to digest food, said Dr. Georgiou. This can alleviate heartburn for many people but may be linked to adverse side effects.

The University of Minnesota study showed a link between PPIs and dementia, although a cause has not been identified.

The study looked at over 5,700 people who had taken PPIs before 2011 and then followed them through 2017.

Researchers concluded from the study that people who took PPIs for less than four-and-a-half years had no increased risk for dementia, while people who took them for longer than four-and-a-half years saw a 33% increase in cognitive symptoms of dementia.

However, Dr. Georgiou says not to panic or stop taking heartburn medication if it works for you. Over-the-counter heartburn medication is meant to be used for no longer than two weeks while prescribed heartburn medication can be taken for up to 12 weeks, Dr. Georgiou added. Talk to your doctor about which medication is right for you.