Dementia, the most common disorder in the elderly, is characterized by symptoms such as loss of memory, difficulties in tasks that require focus and planning, and changes in personality or mood. Scientists do not categorize dementia as a disease, rather describe it as a collection of symptoms that result from damage to the brain.
Due to a severe decline in cognitive abilities, those afflicted with the problem find it difficult to remember even simple things or keep a control over their emotions. Some may also undergo changes in their personality and behavior exhibiting signs of agitation, delusions and hallucinations.
According to the Alzheimer’s Disease International, approximately 46.8 million people worldwide were living with the condition in 2015. The number is estimated to double every 20 years with nearly 74.7 million people expected to suffer from the disease in 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050.
A German study, titled “Association of Proton Pump Inhibitors With Risk of Dementia,” published online in the journal JAMA Neurology in February 2016, linked the effects of heartburn drugs to dementia in the elderly. The survey that was conducted on more than 73,000 people revealed that people using proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) – drugs used to cure acid-related disorders of the gastrointestinal tract – were 44 percent more likely to suffer from dementia than non-users.
Avoidance of PPI may prevent development of dementia
As part of the study, the researchers examined 73,679 participants, of which 29,510 were found to be suffering from dementia. Each participant was monitored for 18 months to keep a tab on his PPI prescriptions. Any new prescription for PPIs, such as omeprazole, pantoprazole, lansoprazole, esomeprazole, or rabeprazole was brought to notice and a track record was maintained.
The results of the study showed that 2,950 patients, aged nearly 84 years, who used PPIs regularly were at an increased risk of dementia than those who were not using the drug.
Stressing that the aim of the research was to find out the association between use of PPIs, including nexium, prilosec and prevacid, and the heightened risk of dementia among its users, the researchers said, “The present study can only provide a statistical association between PPI use and risk of dementia. The possible underlying causal biological mechanism has to be explored in future studies. To evaluate and establish direct cause and effect relationships between PPI use and incident dementia in the elderly, randomized, prospective clinical trials are needed.”
Though the study could not determine a cause-and-effect relationship between the use of PPIs and the increased risk of dementia, it definitely gave enough evidence to prove that avoidance of PPI medication may prevent the development of dementia.
Road to recovery
It might take some time to recover from dementia, but scientists are constantly on the lookout for an innovative treatment that can check the development and increasing prevalence of the disorder. The presence of dementia in someone makes it difficult to identify depression in someone as the two problems can cause some common symptoms, such as apathy, loss of interest in activities and hobbies, etc.
If you or your loved one is struggling with any kind of mental illness, including depression or dementia, you may get in touch with the Depression Treatment Helpline to know about various depression programs. Chat online with one of our experts today or call at the 24/7 helpline number 866-619-7729 for further information about treatment centers for depression and/or other problems.