Dementia Found to be Yet Another Risk of High Blood Sugar

Posted by Pharmacist on August 20, 2013

It’s no secret that diabetes is dangerous to your health. Years ago researchers discovered in the past that people with diabetes had an increased risk of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. A new study has found that patients who are not diabetic, but have higher blood glucose levels, are also at increased risk of developing dementia.
The study was conducted in Washington State and published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Paul Crane, the study’s lead author, noted it “may have influence on the way we think about blood sugar and the brain.”  The study recorded blood glucose levels of 2,067 people for an average of seven years each; the average age at the start of the study was 76. Some of the patients had Type 2 diabetes at the beginning of the study, but they were a minority. None of the patients had dementia.
Blood sugar levels were measured combining both fasting and non-fasting glucose measurements with the HbA1c glycated hemoglobin assay. Data was adjusted to consider other factors linked to dementia such as high blood pressure or smoking.  During the study the participants underwent cognitive screening every other year. Those with results below normal went in for additional testing and evaluation. During the study period approximately one fourth of the participants developed a form of dementia, usually Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia.  Dr. Crane notes, “We found a steadily increasing risk associated with ever-higher blood glucose levels, even in people who didn’t have diabetes.” The higher the blood sugar levels, the greater the risk of association with dementia; conversely, lower risk corresponded to lower blood sugar levels, even at “normal” glucose levels.  The study found that participants with a blood sugar average of 115 milligrams per deciliter had an 18 percent higher risk than those at 100 mg/dL.

Because of the extreme health risks associated with diabetes everyone should continue to watch blood sugar levels, no matter what the risk of dementia may be.


For more information: NEJM

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