As if diabetes weren’t challenge enough… new research that supports earlier work on diabetes and dementia and the long-held suspicion of medicine, finds those who have this life altering, potentially dangerous condition are at significantly higher risk of developing all types of dementia (that includes Alzheimer’s disease) than those without diabetes.
This work, unlike studies of the past, uses a large sample size and is of significant enough duration to be convincing, and appears in the journal Neurology.
The researchers want everyone to understand that you need to be aware of the potential problems diabetes can bring… and treat it aggressively and consistently in order to keep trouble from starting.
To stay in control when it comes to diabetes, patients need to be careful about what they eat, how active they are, and may also need insulin or other drugs to keep blood sugar levels properly managed. When left untreated, this disease can cause blindness, kidney and heart disease and even death.
The study, conducted by a team at Kyushu University in Japan, included just over 1,000 Japanese men and women, over 60 years old, who took a glucose test to see if they were diabetic or pre-diabetic. They were then followed for an average of 11 years.
At the end of the study period, 232 of the subjects were diagnosed with dementia. This could be either Alzheimer’s, all cause dementia, vascular dementia or another form of the disease.
Of the 150 study participants who had diabetes, 41 (27%) were diagnosed with dementia as well, while 115 (20%) of the 559 who didn’t have diabetes were also diagnosed with the memory robbing, independence stealing condition.
Among the 308 who had pre-diabetes, 76 (or 25%) also were found to have developed dementia. Even having higher than normal levels of blood sugar during the testing was associated with higher dementia risk.
While we are more convinced than ever that diabetes and dementia are linked, experts still can’t say exactly why having diabetes increases the risk of dementia.
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Yet More Evidence Linking Dementia With This Common Condition… Continued…
It may be that diabetes contributes to vascular disease, and doctors know this condition disrupts the flow of oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body. Such disruption might be enough to cause memory problems and other issues.
Diabetes today affects almost 26 million adults and children in the United States alone, with an estimated 7 million undiagnosed, and unaware of the risks, according to figures from the American Diabetes Association. This adds up to $174 billion in costs for health care. There are another 79 million with pre-diabetes.
Considering the incredible increases in type 2 diabetes being seen around the world, along with spiraling obesity rates, experts believe that controlling this illness, and hopefully limiting its consequences, is more important than ever.
The next step for researchers is to find out if treating early dementia with insulin might be of benefit to patients, and this work is to be funded by the Alzheimer’s Association.
Going forward, the findings confirm the notion that diabetes and dementia may be linked. As such, this should change the way doctors manage diabetes, especially if a patient shows signs of failing memory or having other cognitive problems associated with dementia.