Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Diabetes and Dementia: Stronger Link Than You Think

Anyone who has helped care for a loved one with diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes, know how important it is to monitor their diets and blood-sugar level. Type 2 diabetes has been on the rise for at least a couple of decades and is now the most common form, affected 26 million people in the United States. It's not unusual for someone to have it (sometimes for years) and not know it. Symptoms include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
 A new study now says there's a stronger link between those with diabetes and all forms of dementia. In that group, 27 pecent of diabetes developed dementia compared to 20 percent with normal blood sugar levels. That's significant, especially given Type 2 diabetes is preventable and once it develops, manageable through diet and exercise and insulin injections as needed. Other studies have shown similar links, but these particular research project was conducted over more than a decade and involved 1,000 patients, so the results are drawing the medical world's attention.
"Diabetes is a major risk factor for vascular disease," said Dr. Spyros Mezitis, a clinical endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "If the blood vessels are not allowing enough oxygen to get to the brain, you can get dementia."

The study will "change the way we practice medicine" and could lead to quicker referral of diabetics to neurologists when they show signs of memory loss or other cognitive problems, he said.

The goal for patients is to avoid the progression of vascular disease and to maintain proper blood sugar levels, he noted.

Article: Diabetes tied to increased risk for Alzheimer's

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