Diabetes May Hasten Mental Decline

MONDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults with diabetes and poor blood sugar control are at increased risk for greater declines in their memory and thinking abilities, a new study finds.

Researchers followed more than 3,000 people without dementia, average age 74, for more than 10 years.

At the start of the study, 23 percent of the participants had diabetes. Of the more than 2,300 participants without diabetes, 159 developed the condition during the follow-up period.

People with diabetes at the start of the study scored lower on initial tests of their thinking skills than those without diabetes. During the follow-up, participants with diabetes showed much greater declines in mental function than those without diabetes.

The study was published online June 18 in the journal Archives of Neurology.

The findings support the theory that older adults with diabetes have reduced thinking and memory skills and that poor blood sugar control may be a contributing factor, said Dr. Kristine Yaffe, of the University of California, San Francisco, and the San Francisco VA Medical Center, and colleagues in a journal news release.

The investigators said further research is needed to determine if early diagnosis and treatment of diabetes reduces the risk of mental decline and if good blood sugar control helps reduce the effect of diabetes on thinking and memory function.

While the study found an association between diabetes and mental decline, it did not show a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about diabetes in older people.

SOURCE: Archives of Neurology, news release, June 18, 2012

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