Diabetes drugs have been making the headlines recently for their weight-loss benefits. The demand has significantly skyrocketed, and diabetes patients are finding it hard to secure refills. And now another diabetes medication has been found to reduce the risk of dementia by half.

According to a new study published in the journal Neurology, the drug pioglitazone (Actos) helped lower the dementia risk of type 2 diabetes patients who took it to regulate their blood sugar. The effect was found to be more significant in patients who had a stroke or ischemic heart disease.

The researchers behind the study said previous research documented the protective effect of pioglitazone in diabetic individuals. Some studies have also shown how the drug lowers the risk of primary and recurrent stroke. Hence, they sought to establish if the drug’s potential in cutting stroke risk also reduced dementia risk.

Using data from type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) patients from the Korean National Health Insurance Service DM cohort (2002-2017), the team investigated the relationship between pioglitazone use and dementia incidence in diabetic patients. They examined the extent to which incident stroke affected the relationship between the drug and dementia using a multi-state model.

After analyzing data, the scientists found that pioglitazone lowered the risk of dementia in diabetes patients compared to those who did not use the drug. The risk reduction was considerably higher among patients with a history of stroke or ischemic heart disease before their diabetes onset.

Past studies found that people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop dementia compared with people without the condition, according to Everyday Health.

However, the team found that the benefit was only there if the diabetes patients had a stroke in the past. Those who developed a stroke while using pioglitazone did not yield the same lowered dementia risk.

“Pioglitazone use is associated with a lower risk of dementia in DM patients, particularly in those with a history of stroke or ischemic heart disease, suggesting the possibility of applying a personalized approach when choosing pioglitazone to suppress dementia in DM patients,” they concluded.

Study author Eosu Kim, MD, Ph.D., of South Korea’s Yonsei University, said their findings suggest that the diabetes drug pioglitazone could provide a means for early intervention since dementia takes years to develop before diagnosis.

“These results may suggest that we could use a personalized approach to preventing dementia in people with diabetes in the case that they have a history of ischemic heart disease or stroke,” Kim said in a press release.

The news comes amid the sudden interest in diabetes drugs by many people trying to lose weight. The trend started with Ozempic, the diabetes drug celebrities use to shed pounds fast. The weight-loss benefits of Ozempic and similar drugs have been trending on social media for months as more and more people share the guaranteed results of dramatic weight loss.

The popularity of Ozempic and other diabetes drugs skyrocketed, causing a shortage of supply for diabetes patients — the people who need the drugs to manage their medical condition.

Diabetes is a challenge many Americans face Tumisu/Pixabay