Dementia: Links with Hypoglycemia
Links with Hypoglycemia
University of South Carolina
to this month’s Diabetes Care newsletter.
Our topic is dementia risk for older people increased by low blood
sugar. Older people with type 2 diabetes
who have been in the hospital with severe low blood sugar levels seem to have a
greater risk of developing dementia, says a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
not yet clear whether the more common, less severe episodes of low blood sugar
are also linked with an increased dementia risk. Hypoglycemic, or low blood sugar, episodes
are marked by dizziness, fainting and even seizures. Study author, Dr. Rachel Whitmer, says
hypoglycemic episodes that were severe enough to require hospitalization or an
emergency room visit were linked with a greater risk of dementia. This was particularly true for patients who
had multiple episodes. The study
suggests that hypoglycemia is one of the reasons people with type 2 diabetes
are at a higher risk for dementia, says Dr. Whitmer. It also shows that maintaining control of
blood sugar levels is a critical issue particularly for the elderly.
with type 2 diabetes are at a 32 percent greater risk for dementia, although
the reasons for that aren’t clear.
People with pre-diabetes are also at greater risk. Diabetes expert Dr. _____ cautions that the
study doesn’t actually prove a cause and effect relationship between the two
conditions. He says the dementia could
be from the fluctuation of glucose since high blood sugar is also toxic to the
cells. Dr. Whitmer notes that its likely
hypoglycemia is only one reason for the increased risk of dementia in people
issue is an important one as the population of people with type 2 diabetes
continues to grow. In the U.S.
alone, some 24 million people have the condition. More are expected as the population
ages. The study authors followed more
than 16,000 patients with type 2 diabetes from 1980 to 2007. The average age of the study participants was
65. Twenty-two years of follow up looked
at hypoglycemic episodes and more than four years were devoted to dementia
diagnoses. The association they found
could be from any number of causes, including rapid death of nerve cells in the
brain or decreased blood supply to the brain.
It could also be a result of too much insulin over time, possibly
causing damage to neurons or changes in the brain.
For more information, always consult your
doctor. Thank you for listening. Please visit our website for more information
on health and wellness topics.