People with diabetes know firsthand that controlling their blood sugar level is very important in managing their disease. But such control shouldn’t go overboard to the point that the patient becomes hypoglycemic and raises the chances of having dementia later in life.
Researchers at the University of California San Francisco examined hospital records of more than 780 diabetes patients, aged 70 to 79, to determine if there’s any link between diabetes and cognitive decline. None of the participants had dementia when the study began in 1997. Over the course of twelve years the patients underwent tests to measure their cognitive function.
The group’s findings, which appeared online in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that low blood sugar may boost dementia risk in older adults with diabetes, and having dementia or even milder forms of cognitive impairment may increase the risk of experiencing low blood sugar.
Dr. Kristine Yaffe, the study’s senior author and principal investigator, and professor of psychiatry at UCFS, explained that elderly diabetics were more likely to have poor diabetes management which may result in dementia. Similarly, they were less able to effectively manage complex treatment regimens for diabetes, which may lead to low blood sugar. As such, doctors should take into account their elderly patient’s cognitive function to make sure they are able to keep their glucose level within a target range.