Midlife diabetes may speed up cognitive decline
Diabetes affects many organs in the body, including the brain. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found being diagnosed with diabetes as a middle-aged adult may increase the rate of cognitive decline over the next 20 years.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analyzed 15,792 middle-aged adults from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Every three years participants underwent a health assessment during four doctor visits from 1987 to 1998. A fifth assessment was between 2011 and 2013. During one of these assessments, cognitive function was tested.
The cognitive decline of the participants was then compared to the cognitive decline of the general population. The results indicated that people with poorly controlled diabetes were 19 percent more likely to have cognitive decline—such as memory loss, forgetting words and executive function problems—than people who did not have diabetes. The people with severe diabetes experienced cognitive decline about five years sooner than those without the condition. Researchers also found pre-diabetics were at a higher risk of cognitive decline but their risk was less than those with poorly controlled diabetes.
The study highlights the importance of maintaining blood sugars and controlling diabetes through diet, exercise and lifestyle. One researcher noted that preventing and controlling diabetes may also help reduce the number of dementia cases.