4 Common Drugs that May Increase Your Risk of Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Written By Brady Wirick

The delicate balance within the human body is influenced by the vast array of chemicals we expose it to. Among these, some commonly prescribed medications have been highlighted for their potential links to cognitive decline, specifically Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Here are my top three drugs and their potential implications:

Omeprazole and Other Stomach Acid Drugs

Omeprazole, a member of the proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) family, is used to manage conditions like GERD, stomach ulcers, and acid reflux by diminishing stomach acid production.

Why the Concern?

PPIs were never intended for prolonged consumption. Over time, these drugs can significantly reduce stomach acid, which is pivotal for digesting proteins and fats. Inadequate digestion may lead to malabsorption. This will affect your brain health.

Further, diminished stomach acid can hinder the absorption of critical vitamins and minerals. One noteworthy example is vitamin B12. A deficiency in this vitamin has been connected to neurological complications and an elevated risk of dementia.

The extended use of PPIs has also been linked to an increased risk of kidney disease, stomach infections, and bone fractures, all of which can indirectly influence cognitive health by affecting overall well-being and body function.

What is the solution?

Most people experience reflux because of too little stomach acid, not too much. What causes the heartburn is actually lactic acid, not stomach acid.

Many people will experience relief when they switch to a whole food, anti-inflammatory diet.

 

Statin Drugs

Statins, known for their cholesterol-lowering capabilities, reduce cholesterol by inhibiting its production in the body. Their benefits for cardiovascular health are well established, but only by sponsored research. Their long-term effects on the brain are what are the most concerning.

Why the Concern?

Cholesterol is integral to cell membranes and is especially concentrated in the brain. It’s foundational for hormone production, vitamin D synthesis, and other digestive processes. Its role in nerve function cannot be overstated.

By altering cholesterol production, statins might impact brain functionality. Some research points to a potential connection between prolonged statin use and a modest increase in the risks of Alzheimer’s and dementia. However, it’s essential to view these potential risks in the broader context of an individual’s overall health. For many, the cardiovascular advantages of statins could outweigh these concerns.

Moreover, there’s emerging research suggesting that statins might decrease the body’s production of coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant that cells require for energy. This reduction could have further implications for neurological health.

What is the solution?

You can vastly improve your cardiovascular health by avoiding sugar, eating a whole food diet, and following a consistent exercise program.

 

Metformin and Glucose Metabolism

Metformin, a cornerstone in type 2 diabetes treatment, aids in stabilizing blood sugar levels by enhancing insulin handling.

 Why the Concern?

The issue with metformin is not inherently about the drug but the condition it addresses. Metformin usage signifies significant metabolic dysfunction.

Alzheimer’s is now referred to as “type 3 diabetes” due to proposed links between insulin resistance in the brain and cognitive decline. Insulin resistance, characteristic of type 2 diabetes, means cells are less responsive to insulin’s effects. In Alzheimer’s, it’s theorized that the brain’s capacity to use glucose dwindles.

Though metformin helps manage blood sugar in the body, the very presence of metabolic dysfunction could influence brain health. Thus, comprehensive management, emphasizing lifestyle, diet, and medical measures, is paramount for those with type 2 diabetes.

What is the solution?

How many ways can I say lose weight, eat a whole food diet, and establish an exercise routine.

Blood Pressure Medications and Brain Health

 

Blood pressure medications, commonly known as antihypertensives, are prescribed to millions worldwide to manage hypertension. These drugs work in various ways, from dilating blood vessels to reducing heart rate or volume of blood the heart pumps, ultimately aiming to lower blood pressure.

Why the Concern?

The primary function of these medications is to reduce blood pressure, and while effectively doing so, they might inadvertently reduce blood flow to the brain. The brain is an organ with a high demand for oxygen and nutrients, both of which are delivered by an efficient blood supply. Any reduction in blood flow could potentially limit the brain’s access to these essential resources, leading to diminished cognitive function over time.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to understand the underlying cause of the elevated blood pressure. Hypertension often isn’t a standalone issue; it’s frequently a symptom of systemic inflammation within the body. Chronic inflammation is increasingly recognized as a key player in various health issues, including cognitive decline.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection. However, when this inflammation becomes chronic, it can have detrimental effects. Persistent inflammation can lead to the buildup of plaques in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. These plaques interfere with neuron function, leading to memory loss and other cognitive impairments.

Moreover, when assessing the bigger picture, it becomes evident that hypertension and the subsequent need for medication might be more than just a heart or vascular issue. It’s a potential indicator of a broader systemic problem tied to inflammation and an increased risk for conditions like dementia.

It’s worth noting that while there’s a potential concern about reduced blood flow to the brain, blood pressure medications have proven benefits in preventing heart attacks, strokes, and kidney problems. As with all medications, it’s essential to weigh the benefits against potential risks.

By now, I am guessing you know what the solution is.

 

Conclusion

Each of these medications serves therapeutic purposes and can be essential for managing certain conditions. However, a deeper understanding of their long-term effects, especially concerning cognitive health, is crucial. Use of these medications is up to you and your healthcare provider.

Making the appropriate lifestyle modifications to eliminate the use of these drugs is a deeply personal endeavor. We would love to help you on this path. Please call us or click on this link to schedule a one on one conversation about your goals and to see if we can help you with a specific plan.

 

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