You’ve heard a lot about the dangers of high blood sugar, how to control it, and what happens if you do not adequately control it. Did you know that persistent high blood sugar can also affect your cognitive function?
A new study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that indicated higher blood sugar levels, even within the normal range, can still increase the risk of developing dementia. In other words, people who have insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome (even if they have blood glucose levels within normal limits) can have an increased risk of dementia.
The researchers evaluated data from 839 men and 1,228 women. The participants, on average, were 76 years old, and were followed for about seven years. During the study, 534 subjects developed dementia, 74 of whom were also diagnosed with diabetes. In the participants without diabetes, those who had higher average blood glucose levels had an increase risk of dementia compared to other participants who had lower levels of blood glucose. In the participants who developed diabetes, those who had higher blood glucose levels also had a greater chance of developing dementia.
“This work is increasingly relevant because of the worldwide epidemics of dementia, obesity, and diabetes,” said lead author of the study Dr. Crane. I could not agree more with Dr. Crane. The epidemic of obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes is responsible for the increasing incidence of dementia. Higher blood sugar caused from insulin resistance leads to higher levels of inflammation within the arteries and cells of the brain. This can affect blood flow, the degree of cellular oxygenation, and result in neuron damage. In addition, advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) caused from the high blood sugar can also damage cellular structures of the brain as it ages.
What this study really indicated is that you don’t need to wait for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes before beginning aggressive treatment, as the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, stroke, organ failure, and dementia are apparent in patients who have high-normal blood glucose and insulin resistance. Such is the case in people who have abdominal obesity, a poor lifestyle, and metabolic syndrome.
In my opinion, clinical end-points that rely on fixed measurements are misleading and dangerous as a reliable method to determine prognosis or appropriate care for the patient! According to Dr. Crane, “clinical determination of diabetes/not diabetes may miss important associations still there for people who are categorized as not having diabetes.”
Well said, Dr. Crane!
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Brooks, M., “High Blood Glucose Linked to Dementia Even Without Diabetes,” Medscape web site, August 8, 2013; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/809165, last accessed August 13, 2013.
Crane., P., et al., “Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia,” N Engl J Med. August 8, 2013; 369: 540-548.