The devastative impact of diabetes
on cognitive ability is already known, but it doesn't end there. A recent study
finds that individuals who develop diabetes
and high blood pressure
in middle age may be at a higher risk of brain
compared to ones free of the ailment or who develop them later
in life; thinking and memory skills may be severely compromised in individuals
with progressing age.
The study result underlines the
importance of encouraging patients to aggressively manage their diabetes.
The research team lead by Rosebud O.
Roberts of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN assessed 1,437 individuals with an
average age of 80 for their thinking and memory
. Middle age was defined as age 40 to 64. Those with either
mild cognitive impairment and/ or thinking problems were included in the study.
Their medical records were searched in depth to trace the history of diabetes
then performed brain scans in the participants so as to look for markers of
brain damage that harbinger dementia, severe loss of mental abilities.
are the relevant shocking observations:
Compared with the healthy ones (i.e. those without
diabetes) people who developed diabetes in middle age had a 2.9% smaller total
brain volume; the volume in the hippocampus, a part of the brain associated
was smaller by 4%. Reduced brain volumes impair cognition.
These people were twice more likely to have memory and thinking problems than
those without diabetes.
Ones who developed high blood pressure in middle age were twice at risk of
having areas of brain damage than the normotensive (normal blood
Data on people who developed the relevant ailments in old age showed that-
people who developed high blood pressure in old age did not suffer any adverse
impacts on the brain while the case was different for diabetes! This meant
diabetes would invariably affect the brain irrespective of the age of onset of
"Overall, our findings suggest that the
effects of these diseases on the brain take decades to develop and show up as
brain damage and lead to symptoms that affect their memory and other thinking skills.
In particular, diabetes has adverse effects regardless of the age at which
diabetes develops," says Robert.
is, unfortunately, incurable; prevention is all that can be done. "In the
absence of a cure for dementia, our findings emphasize the importance of
prevention and control of type 2
as a means to reducing the burden of dementia due to Alzheimer's
dementia," adds Dr. Roberts.
Reference: American Academy of Neurology