Type 2 diabetes is a condition that normally occurs in late adulthood, and patients with the disease are at increased risk for dementia when compared to non-diabetics. In a recent study, Michael Heneka and demographers Anne Fink and Gabriele Doblhammer examined how anti-diabetic medication influences this risk.
The study included analysis of diseases and medication information of more than 145,000 people aged 60 and over, retrieved from the German public health insurance company AOK between 2004 to 2010.
Results showed that, as previously found in other investigations, patients with diabetes are at increased risk for dementia. The researchers also found that pioglitazone can decrease this risk. This drug, taken in tablets, is a short and long-term treatment of the disease, when the body can still produce insulin.
“Treatment with pioglitazone showed a remarkable side benefit. It was able to significantly decrease the risk of dementia,” said Doblhammer in a recent news release. “The longer the treatment, the lower the risk.” Risk reduction was most noticeable when the drug was administered for at least two years. Diabetics given this treatment developed dementia less often than non-diabetics. Doblhammer: “The risk of developing dementia was around 47 percent lower than in non-diabetics, i.e. only about half as large.”