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Heartburn Medication Tied to Increased Dementia Risk

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on February 23, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

New research has found that taking heartburn drugs could increase your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or dementia by up to 52 percent. The study looked at drugs like Prevacid, Prilosec, or Nexium, which are known as proton pump inhibitors and are widely available over the counter or with a prescription.

Researchers stopped short of saying PPI's cause dementia, and but concluded that "the avoidance of PPI medication may contribute to the prevention of dementia." But with an estimated 15 million Americans using PPIs regularly, avoiding the medication may be harder than it seems.

Sobering Upset Stomach Stats

From 2004 to 2011, German researchers tracked 73,769 people age 75 and older. None of the patients had been diagnosed with dementia before taking PPIs. Five years later, around 29,000 of them developed Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia.

Controlling for factors like age, sex, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease, researchers found that regular PPI use increased the risk of developing dementia by 52 percent in men and 42 percent in women. This is compared to subjects that did not take PPIs.

Dangerous Drugs and Dementia

If a more causal link between heartburn drugs and dementia is established, it's possible that PPI users that develop dementia could file lawsuits against drug manufacturers. Manufacturers could be held liable if they fail to warn users of potentially harmful side effects.

Dangerous drugs and medicines are governed by product liability, which can be proven in three ways:

  1. A design defect that rendered the drug unreasonably dangerous to consumers;
  2. A manufacturing defect that dangerously departed from the intended design of the drug; or
  3. A warning defect, whereby the drug lacked adequate instructions or warnings.

Drug manufacturers could also be liable for deceptive marketing of drugs or the failure to warn of potentially life-threatening side effects. To find out if you have a claim for developing dementia after taking heartburn medication, contact an experienced personal injury attorney near you.

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