High Blood Glucose Can Lead to Dementia

by David Mendosa Patient Advocate

One of the largest studies of the connection between diabetes and dementia has just confirmed what we have suspected for several years. There isn’t one.

BUT high blood glucose levels are connected to dementia, according to a new study of 353,214 people with type 2 diabetes. Researchers reported that people with type 2 diabetes who had A1C levels of 10.5 percent or higher were 50 percent more likely to get a diagnosis of dementia than those with levels of 6.5 percent or less. The higher the A1C level the greater the risk of dementia.

Hypoglycemia is also connected with dementia, according to studies. A recent meta-analysis in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism shows a bi-directional relationship between cognitive impairment and hypoglycemia in older people who have diabetes. Another new study, a population-based study in Canada reported in Diabetes Care, found that preexisting vascular disease and severe hypoglycemia were the greatest risk factors for dementia in seniors with diabetes.

Aidin Rawshani, M.D., of Sweden’s University of Gothenburg, and his colleagues identified everyone with type 2 diabetes who was registered in the Swedish National Diabetes Registry between 2003 and 2012 and who did not have dementia at enrollment. Their observational study adjusted for factors such as age, gender, and weight.

Dr. Rawshani presented the study September 14 at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. You can read the abstract, “Glycaemic control and incidence of dementia in 363,573 patients with type 2 diabetes,” online.

Is Alzheimer’s Type 3 Diabetes?

Of all the types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is most common, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. It is perhaps the most dreaded disease of aging, and we have known for years that people with diabetes are more likely to get it. In fact, some people have begun to say that “Alzheimer’s Disease Is Type 3 Diabetes.”

But this apparent connection between diabetes and dementia confuses the disease of diabetes with how well we manage it. Back in January 2009 I reported here in “Breaking the Diabetes-Alzheimer’s Connection” on a study of 240 healthy elders in Manhattan, “The brain in the age of old,” that concluded, “The key for everyone to prevent Alzheimer’s is to control blood glucose levels.”

Optimize A1C Levels

Dr. Rawshani comes to the same conclusion. “This means that we can modify the risk of developing dementia in individuals with type 2 diabetes by optimizing A1C levels,” he says.

Dementia can indeed be one of the complications of diabetes. But not to worry.

Diabetes doesn’t cause anything. Well managing diabetes is the leading cause of nothing. Poor management causes all of its complications. Including dementia.

David Mendosa
Meet Our Writer
David Mendosa

David Mendosa was a journalist who learned in 1994 that he had type 2 diabetes, which he wrote about exclusively. He died in May 2017 after a short illness unrelated to diabetes. He wrote thousands of diabetes articles, two books about it, created one of the first diabetes websites, and published a monthly newsletter, “Diabetes Update.” His very low-carbohydrate diet, A1C level of 5.3, and BMI of 19.8 kept his diabetes in remission without any drugs until his death.