What's the Link Between Diabetes and Dementia?
For years, researchers have studied the effect of blood sugar on cognitive function. With type 2 diabetes on the rise, the need to identify methods of prevention and treatment has grown increasingly important.
In addition to other complications associated with diabetes, there may well be a link between diabetes and dementia. Though there is still much left to be understood, people with diabetes seem to have a higher incidence of all-cause dementia than people with normal blood sugars.
What’s the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is a rare autoimmune disease in which the body can’t produce insulin, a substance your body needs to control blood sugar.
Type 2 diabetes is most common. With Type 2 diabetes, the body can’t use the insulin you produce like it once did, making it increasingly difficult to control your blood sugar. You may be at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if you:
- Are overweight or lack physical activity
- Are over the age of 45
- Have a family history of Type 2 diabetes
- Are a woman diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy
Why do people with type 2 diabetes seem to have a higher incidence of all-cause dementia?
Insulin is responsible for delivering glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into muscle, fat, liver, and most other cells so that the body can use it for fuel. With type 2 diabetes, an insufficient amount of insulin can cause elevated blood glucose, and cause damage to the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain and other tissues and organs.
What can I do to lower my risk?
The effects of hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar) and other aspects of diabetes on the brain are areas of intense research. Adopting a healthy diet and participating in regular physical activity may be the first step toward reducing risk of developing type 2 diabetes, complications of diabetes, and perhaps of diabetes-related dementia.