Type 2 Diabetes Associated With Cognitive Decline, Says Study

Type 2 diabetes is linked with higher blood flow impairment to the brain, as well as a steeper decline in mental acuity, compared to nondiabetics of similar age and health, even as little as over a two-year period, new research reports.

According to the Endocrine Society’s Facts and Figures Report, there are over 29 million Americans with diabetes. For every 100 Americans diagnosed with this condition, 21 have nerve damage, 27 have diabetic kidney disease, and between 29 and 33 have diabetic eye disease that can cloud vision.

Study co-author Wei-Che Chiu, MD, PhD, of the National Taiwan University College of Public Health, Cathay General Hospital and Fu Jen Catholic University, said:

“Our research is the first nationwide study to examine how the severity and progression of diabetes is related to dementia diagnosis rates in an older population. We found that as diabetes progresses and an individual experiences more complications from the disease, the risk of dementia rises as well.”

Diabetes develops when an individual’s pancreas does not produce enough of the hormone insulin, or the body can’t use insulin properly to process sugar. When the blood sugar levels stay elevated because of uncontrolled diabetes, serious complications can develop, including kidney failure, blindness, and decreased blood flow in limbs that can lead to amputation.

“The study demonstrates why it is so crucial for people with diabetes to work closely with health care providers on controlling their blood sugar,” Chiu said. “Managing the disease can help prevent the onset of dementia later in life.”

In a 12-year-long population-based cohort study, researchers used data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database‘s records, dating back to 1999, to identify 431,178 people who were older than 50 and newly diagnosed with diabetes.

The researchers asessed records to see how many people in the cohort were admitted to a hospital or had at least three outpatient medical visits for dementia after they were diagnosed with diabetes. The researchers used an adapted version of the Diabetes Complications Severity Index, to evaluate the progression of each individual’s diabetes.

Of the people in the selected cohort, 6.2 percent (26,856 people), were diagnosed with dementia. The risk of developing dementia was raised among people who had a high score on the Diabetes Complications Severity Index compared to those who had a low score.

Journal Reference: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2015-1677

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