Dementia refers to a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. The number of patients with dementia is steadily increasing. A new research has suggested that type 1 diabetes patients could face a higher risk of developing dementia.
Lead author Rachel Whitmer said, "Our study found a higher risk of all-cause dementia in people with type 1 diabetes, and we now want to figure out how to help the patients age successfully. The study only proved that the two diseases were linked."
For the study, the researchers reviewed records of more than 490,000 who were over 60 years old and had no history of dementia as of 2002. They found that 16% of the people with type 1 diabetes developed dementia while in the rest of the group 12% of people developed the disease. 4% more of people with type 1 diabetes than the whole sample developed all-cause dementia which was a real increase in the risk.
When the research team removed people with type 2 diabetes from the general population sample, the association between type 1 diabetes and dementia became even stronger. However, when they adjusted the data to account for factors such as sex, age, race, stroke, peripheral artery disease and high blood pressure, the link between type 1 diabetes and dementia decreased.
Whitmer said, "It was possible that as in type 2 diabetes, high blood sugar levels may cause some sort of damage to blood vessels that could contribute to dementia in people with type 1 diabetes. But the reason behind the association was not clear from this study, and more research was needed. Type 1 diabetes is a disease that requires constant vigilance and constant self-care and 83% of people suffering from it were more likely to develop dementia as seniors."
These findings will be presented at Alzheimer's Association International Conference, in Washington D.C.