New research links diabetes to cognitive deterioration

Mar 05, 2009

Blindness, renal failure, stroke and heart disease are potential complications of type 2 diabetes, which currently afflicts more than 15 million Americans. Now research from Tel Aviv University has found more worrying news ― type 2 diabetes can be a risk factor accelerating cognitive decline and dementia.

Dr. Tali Cukierman-Yaffe, a physician and researcher from TAU's Sackler School of Medicine, found that people with diabetes were 1.5 more likely to experience cognitive decline, and 1.6 more likely to suffer from dementia than people without diabetes. Her recent publication in the journal Diabetes Care suggests that higher-than-average levels of blood glucose (blood sugar) may have a role in this relationship.

Her work is part of the ongoing Memory in Diabetes (MIND) project, a sub-study of the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) trial.

First Step Towards New Treatments

"Our results send an important message to the public," says Dr. Cukierman-Yaffe. "We have shown conclusively that there is a relationship between diabetes and cognitive dysfunction. This should be known by diabetics and their doctors. Knowledge is the first step towards action.

"Intact thinking is essential for managing the disease," Dr. Cukierman-Yaffe adds.

Clinicians today work with the patient to prevent complications of diabetes. Early detection of visual problems, for example, can be treated with laser surgery if diagnosed early enough, and blindness can be avoided in some cases.

"Today, diabetes cannot be cured. We can however delay or prevent many of its complications," says Dr. Cukierman-Yaffe. "Diagnosing cognitive dysfunction at a pre-clinical stage is the first step in finding new treatment options."

A New Association with Poor Cognitive Performance

Dr. Cukierman-Yaffe's work opens a new opportunity for researchers to better understand the cognitive risks associated with diabetes and dysglycemia. She points out that diabetes, unlike other chronic disease states, is a complex disease to manage and one that requires intact cognition in the patient. As the mind starts deteriorating, so does the patient's ability to treat the diabetes effectively. Disease management can then spiral out of control.

Findings in her recent study show that in people with type 2 diabetes, higher levels of haemoglobin A1C (a measure of average blood glucose) are significantly associated with poorer performance on three cognitive tasks which require memory, speed and ability to manage multiple tasks at the same time. A higher A1C level was also associated with a lower score on a test of global cognitive function.

The results of the study suggest that lowering A1C levels could slow the accelerated rate of cognitive decline experienced by people with diabetes. However prospective studies and clinical trials are needed in order to prove this. The ongoing ACCORD-MIND study, in which study patients are followed over time and are tested three times during the trial will test the hypothesis that lowering A1C could result in improved cognitive function.

Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Explore further: DR Congo Ebola outbreak has killed 42 since August: govt

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Metabolic syndrome linked to memory loss in older people

Feb 02, 2011

Older people with larger waistlines, high blood pressure and other risk factors that make up metabolic syndrome may be at a higher risk for memory loss, according to a study published in the February 2, 2011, online issue ...

Migraines and headaches present no risk to cognitive function

Jan 19, 2011

Recent work, in particular the CAMERA study, has used MRI to study the brains of migraine sufferers and has shown that a higher proportion of these patients exhibit lesions of the brain microvessels than the rest of the population.

Recommended for you

UN says Syria vaccine deaths was an NGO 'mistake'

2 hours ago

The recent deaths of Syrian children after receiving measles vaccinations was the result of a "mistake" by a non-governmental partner who mixed in a muscle relaxant meant for anesthesia, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general ...

First US child dies from enterovirus D68

3 hours ago

A child in the northeastern US state of Rhode Island has become the first to die from an ongoing outbreak of a respiratory virus, enterovirus D68, health officials said Wednesday.

US Ebola patient had contact with kids: governor

3 hours ago

A man who was diagnosed with Ebola in virus in Texas came in contact with young children, and experts are monitoring them for any signs of disease, governor Rick Perry said Wednesday.

UN worker dies of suspected Ebola in Liberia

3 hours ago

The United Nations mission in Liberia announced on Wednesday the first suspected victim among its employees of the deadly Ebola epidemic ravaging the impoverished west African nation.

User comments : 0