Researchers note link between diabetes, cognitive decline


CHICAGO — Diabetes and poor glucose control may be associated with greater cognitive decline in older adults, according to a new report from Archives of Neurology, a JAMA Network publication.

Previous studies have suggested a link between diabetes and an increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. In this study, researchers, led by Kristine Yaffe of the University of California in San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Medical Center, analyzed 3,069 patients who completed the modified mini-mental state examination and digit symbol substitution test at baseline and selected intervals over 10 years. At study baseline, 717 patients (23.4%) had prevalent diabetes and 2,352 (76.6%) did not have diabetes, 159 of whom developed diabetes during follow-up. Patients who had prevalent diabetes at baseline had lower 3MS and DSST test scores than patients without diabetes. Results from the analysis showed similar patterns for a 9-year decline among participants with prevalent diabetes (that demonstrated significant decline on both the 3MS and DSST), compared with those without diabetes.

Additional details of the study can be found here.

"This study supports the hypothesis that older adults with [diabetes] have reduced cognitive function and that poor glycemic control may contribute to this association," the authors concluded. "Future studies should determine if early diagnosis and treatment of [diabetes] lessen the risk of developing cognitive impairment and if maintaining optimal glucose control helps mitigate the effect of [diabetes] on cognition."

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