Having diabetes or high blood pressure may increase the chances of death in people with Alzheimer's disease, new research suggests.
The study has been published in the November 4, 2008, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The study involved 323 people who had no memory problems when first tested but later developed dementia. Memory tests and physical exams were then given every 18 months.
The study found that after an Alzheimer's diagnosis was made, people with diabetes were twice as likely to die sooner than those without diabetes who had Alzheimer's disease.
People with Alzheimer's disease who had high blood pressure were two-and-a-half times more like to die sooner than those with normal blood pressure.
"Studies show that the average lifespan of a person diagnosed with Alzheimer's can be anywhere from three to nine years. For that person and their caregiver, every minute counts. Here we have two controllable factors that may drastically affect how long that person can survive," said study author Yaakov Stern, PhD, professor at the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain and director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Division of Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.