This popular diabetes drug may reduce dementia risk

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A new study from the Karolinska Institutet, published in the journal eClinicalMedicine, reveals that GLP-1 agonists, a type of medication used to treat type 2 diabetes, may also reduce the risk of dementia in patients.

This finding could have significant implications for the treatment of older individuals with this common form of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is known to increase the risk of developing dementia, a decline in cognitive functions that can severely impact daily living.

Researchers have been exploring whether diabetes medications can not only manage blood sugar and body weight but also protect against the deterioration of brain function.

GLP-1 agonists, which are also effective in treating obesity and protecting heart health, are the focus of this study. These drugs help control blood sugar levels and promote weight loss, and their potential to safeguard brain health is now coming to light.

The research involved following over 88,000 older individuals with type 2 diabetes for a period of up to ten years.

The method used, known as target trial emulation, is designed to mimic a randomized clinical trial, providing robust insights into the effects of medical treatments over time.

In their analysis, the researchers compared the impact of three types of diabetes drugs: GLP-1 agonists, DPP-4 inhibitors, and sulfonylureas, focusing specifically on their association with the risk of developing dementia.

The findings were compelling. Patients who were treated with GLP-1 agonists had a 30% lower risk of developing dementia than those treated with sulfonylureas, and a 23% lower risk compared to those on DPP-4 inhibitors.

Bowen Tang, a Ph.D. student in the research group led by Sara Hägg at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics of Karolinska Institutet, highlighted the significance of these results.

He noted that this information could help doctors make more informed decisions when prescribing diabetes treatments for older patients, potentially steering them towards options that might also protect against cognitive decline.

Despite these promising results, the researchers caution that more detailed randomized trials are necessary to definitively establish that GLP-1 agonists can reduce the risk of dementia.

Such studies would help confirm whether the observed protective effects are consistent and can be replicated in different populations, thereby solidifying the role of GLP-1 agonists in dementia prevention among diabetes patients.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about Vitamin D and type 2 diabetes, and what you need to know about avocado and type 2 diabetes.

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The research findings can be found in eClinicalMedicine.

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