Metformin, a drug linked to decreased dementia incidence, is often removed from a diabetes patient’s treatment plan due to kidney issues or other less severe adverse effects. However, a new study published in JAMA Network Opens reveals that stopping metformin is linked with increased dementia incidence, in accordance with previous research that displayed a link between dementia and ceasing metformin for reasons unrelated to kidney function.
The study followed 12,220 people who stopped taking metformin, many of whom started taking metformin at the mean age of 59.4 and who possessed a normal estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), a marker of kidney function.The researchers conducted a comparison by analyzing the data of individuals who had discontinued metformin with a group of 29,126 individuals who were either still actively taking metformin or had ceased its usage due to abnormal eGFR levels.
The results, collected over the course of five years, revealed that people who stopped taking metformin had 1.21 times the risk of dementia diagnosis compared with those who didn’t stop taking it, with the association not being supported by increases in HbA1c levels or insulin use.
The study findings imply that factors beyond glucose control and insulin use may influence the connection between stopping metformin and dementia. According to the authors, individuals at high dementia risk with diabetes might benefit from strategies to mitigate metformin adverse effects, like switching to slower-release formulations or taking it with evening meals, enabling them to continue with metformin and potentially reducing the risk of dementia.
“Advancements in preventative dementia care with the use of long-term existing medications are always exciting. We at Specialty RX look forward to seeing metformin utilized to control diabetes while simultaneously decreasing the incidence of dementia.” – Hema Shaddarshanam, VP of Pharmacy Services