People with diabetes appear to be at a significantly increased risk of developing dementia, according to a study published today in Neurology.
People with diabetes were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, such as vascular dementia, which occurs when there is damage to blood vessels that eventually deprive the brain of oxygen. Specifically, of the study participants, people with diabetes were twice as likely to develop dementia as people with normal blood sugar levels. Of the 150 people with diabetes in the study, 41 developed dementia, compared to 115 of the 559 people without diabetes who developed dementia.
“Our findings emphasize the need to consider diabetes as a potential risk factor for dementia,” said study author Yutaka Kiyohara, MD, PhD, of Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan. “Diabetes is a common disorder, and the number of people with it has been growing in recent years all over the world. Controlling diabetes is now more important than ever.”
For the study, more than 1,000 people, age 60 and older, were given a glucose tolerance test after an overnight fast to first see if they had diabetes. Participants were monitored for approximately 11 years, and then tested for dementia. During the study, 232 people developed dementia.
The risk of dementia was also higher in people who did not have diabetes, but had impaired glucose tolerance, or were “pre-diabetes.” The study found the risk of developing dementia also increased when blood sugar was still high two hours after a meal.
Bottom line: Our own survey results found that simple approaches are often the best when it comes to diabetes management. You can learn more about the secrets to good management, plus lifestyle strategies in our diabetes guide. Also, protecting your heart helps prevent Alzheimer’s. As we recently reported, treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes could help slow the decline from memory problems into full-blown Alzheimer's disease.