Blindness, renal failure, stroke and heart disease are potential complications of type 2 diabetes. Now, a new study has found that diabetes can be a risk factor accelerating cognitive decline and dementia too.
In the study, Dr. Tali Cukierman-Yaffe, a physician and researcher from research from Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine, found that people with diabetes were 1.5 more likely to experience cognitive decline, and 1.6 more likely to suffer from dementia than people without diabetes.
The study suggests that higher-than-average levels of blood glucose (blood sugar) may have a role in this relationship.
"Our results send an important message to the public. We have shown conclusively that there is a relationship between diabetes and cognitive dysfunction. This should be known by diabetics and their doctors. Knowledge is the first step towards action," said Dr. Cukierman-Yaffe.
"Intact thinking is essential for managing the disease," Dr. Cukierman-Yaffe added
The study has shown that in people with type 2 diabetes, higher levels of haemoglobin A1C (a measure of average blood glucose) are significantly associated with poorer performance on three cognitive tasks which require memory, speed and ability to manage multiple tasks at the same time.
A higher A1C level was also associated with a lower score on a test of global cognitive function.
The results of the study suggest that lowering A1C levels could slow the accelerated rate of cognitive decline experienced by people with diabetes.
However, prospective studies and clinical trials are needed in order to prove this.
The study has been published in the journal Diabetes Care.