Background: Depression is one of the most disabling disorders, which causes long-term complications such as neurodegenerative disorder and cerebrovascular disease. Some patients with depression seek acupuncture treatment. We aimed to investigate the association between acupuncture treatment and the risk of dementia in patients with depression from the perspective of real-world evidence.
Methods: Patients over 18 years old and newly diagnosed with depression between 1997 and 2010 were selected from the Taiwanese National Health Insurance Research Database and followed up until the end of 2013. Propensity score was used to match equal numbers of patients 1:1 (N = 16,609 per group) into acupuncture and non-acupuncture cohorts based on characteristics including sex, age, baseline comorbidity and drug use. The outcome measurement was the comparison of dementia incidence in the two cohorts.
Results: Compared with the non-acupuncture cohort, patients who received acupuncture treatment had a decreased risk of dementia (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) = 0.54; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.50-0.58, P < 0.001) after adjustment for age, sex, comorbidities and drug use. Compared with depression patients who did not receive acupuncture, the aHR of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease incidences for patients who had acupuncture therapy was 0.59 (95% CI 0.48-0.71) and 0.51 (95% CI 0.39-0.67), respectively. The cumulative incidence of dementia was significantly lower in the acupuncture cohort than in the non-acupuncture cohort (Log rank test, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: The present study from real-world data revealed that acupuncture reduced the risk of dementia in depression patients, which supports healthcare decisions in clinical practice.