Diabetes, high blood pressure in middle age linked to brain damage
New research finds that people who have either diabetes or high blood pressure may be more at risk for developing cognitive problems and loss of brain cells, especially those who are in middle age.
Scientists from the Mayo Clinic looked at data on nearly 1,500 individuals with an average age of 80. Researchers determined how many participants had mild cognitive impairment, no cognitive problems, medical histories of diabetes and blood pressure and when such diagnoses occurred in their life.
The researchers found that the study participants who developed diabetes in middle age—defined as ages between 40 and 64—were twice as likely to have memory and thinking problems than those without diabetes, and participants who developed high blood pressure in middle age were twice as likely to have areas of brain damage. Researchers said that people who develop diabetes or high blood pressure in middle age may have a higher risk of cognitive problems than those who develop the same conditions later on in life. The study’s findings, published in the journal Neurology, add to previous evidence that has linked diabetes to risk of cognitive decline, but this was the first study to focus on when a person was first diagnosed with the condition.
The findings suggest that diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure adversely affect the brain, but symptoms may take decades to develop. Researchers said the study suggests that it is particularly significant to prevent disease in middle age in order to prevent brain damage and cognitive problems—such as memory and brain cell loss—later in life.