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Acupuncture may lower risk of poststroke dementia

01 Aug 2017

Acupuncture may potentially reduce the risk of dementia in patients with nonhaemorrhagic stroke, according to a retrospective cohort study.

Researchers accessed a national health insurance research database and identified 11,220 stroke patients aged ≥50 years hospitalized between 2000 and 2004. Of the patients, half received acupuncture treatment and the other half did not.

Compared with patients who did not receive acupuncture treatment, those who did had a lower incidence of newly diagnosed dementia (34.6 vs 26.5 per 1,000 person-years). Acupuncture was associated with a 27-percent decreased incident dementia risk (hazard ratio [HR], 0.73; 95 percent CI, 0.66 to 0.80).

The protection conferred by acupuncture against dementia was significant in both sexes and every age group, as well as in groups with ischaemic stroke, with fewer medical conditions and those hospitalised after stroke.

Furthermore, stroke patients who received both acupuncture and rehabilitation showed a significantly reduced risk of poststroke dementia (HR, 0.64; 0.56 to 0.74).

Representing a major disease burden worldwide, dementia commonly occurs after a stroke, with the 1-year incidence poststroke ranging between 7.4 and 41.3 percent. Among several treatments used in rehabilitation programmes for patients with stroke, acupuncture is considered safe and well tolerated. [Lancet Neurol 2009;8:1006–18; Stroke 2010;41:e171–e179; Neuroepidemiology 2014;42:50–8]

Potential mechanisms underlying the protective effect of acupuncture against dementia include (1) activation in the regions with decreased activity, as well as deactivation in the regions with increased activity for patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, and (2) improvement in physical abilities as well as wellness indicators, such as blood pressure.

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17 Mar 2018
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