Prescription Drug

The millions of people who depend on medications to ease their heartburn got some new and disturbing news about yet another potential danger of these drugs: a link to dementia. The drugs, known as proton pump inhibitors, have already been linked to other conditions including kidney problems, bone fractures and infections.

The most common over-the-counter P.P.I.s include Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium. P.P.I.s are also available by prescription.

Study Was Conducted by German Researchers

The new study, which was published in JAMA Neurology, was conducted by researchers at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases. They found that men who used P.P.I.s increased their risk of dementias like Alzheimer's by 52 percent when compared to those who didn't use these medications. Women increased their risk by 42 percent.

The researchers studied more than 73,000 people over 75 years of age who did not suffer from dementia at the beginning of the study. When they followed up, on average over five years later, approximately 29,000 had some type of dementia. The study controlled for other conditions and medications.

As the study's senior author noted, doctors and patients need to "weigh the benefits against the potential side effects" when it comes to taking P.P.I.s. She admits that this is just one study and that others will be necessary to better determine whether there is indeed a causal link between these medications and the development of dementia.

Awareness of Potential Risks Is Key to Recognizing the Cause of Harm

Just about all medications carry the risk of causing some type of harm even when used as directed. However, it's important to patients and their families to be aware of these potential risks, particularly if they are in the group most likely to be impacted.

When new medications come onto the market, despite rigorous testing and approval processes, some potential side effects may not be known until people start developing them and a pattern is noted. That's why personal injury attorneys often use class action lawsuits to seek justice and compensation for those harmed by drugs that were meant to help them.