Does Diabetes Double Your Risk for Dementia?

Diagram shows insulin release from the Pancrea...

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It is an urgent matter that should spur you to get your blood sugar under control if you have diabetes or even pre-diabetes.

Why?  Diabetes doubles your risk for dementia.  It was also found that the risk is significantly higher in those of you with impaired glucose tolerance or pre-diabetes, according to a Japanese study published in Neurology (the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology).

In this study a total of 1,017 people, over the age of 60 years, were given a glucose tolerance test to determine if they had diabetes. These same people were then monitored over an 11 year period to test for dementia.

In the study for dementia, the researchers found that people with diabetes were twice as likely to develop dementia as those with normal blood sugar levels.   The risk remained the same even in the presence of other factors, including high blood pressure, smoking, and high cholesterol.  Those people with pre-diabetes had a higher risk for dementia, too.  What was also  interesting about this study was that those people whose blood sugar remained high two hours after a meal were also at risk for dementia.

Why are people with diabetes more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia?

It is because of the damage done to blood vessels that eventually deprives the brain of oxygen.

Why is it important for diabetics to keep their blood sugar from getting too low?

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that when blood sugar levels dropped, memory and alertness were affected.  In addition, when the blood sugar level drops long enough and low enough, the brain suffers long-term damage.

Dr. Yutaka Kiyohara, M.D., Ph.D., the author of the Japanese study said:

“Our findings emphasize the need to consider diabetes as a potential risk factor for dementia.  Diabetes is a common disorder, and the number of people with it has been growing in recent years all over the world.  Controlling diabetes is now more important than ever.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, almost 26 million people have been diagnosed, and about 7 million people are unaware that they have this disease.  It gets even worse!  Another 79 million have pre-diabetes.

The following symptoms may indicate that you could be one of the 79 million who have pre-diabetes and don’t even know it:

  • Thirst.  “If you are drinking more water than usual, and you are going to the bathroom more frequently may be because of a build up of sugar in your blood.  Water is being pulled from your tissues and the extra glucose is being shunted (moved) to your urine.” (Mayo Clinic)
  • Losing weight with no effort.  This happens when your body isn’t producing as much insulin and your cells aren’t getting enough glucose.  So what happens to your body?  It begins to break down muscle tissue and fat for energy.  This is a more dramatic symptom in those of you with Type 1 Diabetes; however, people with Type II Diabetes can also lose weight as insulin resistance increases.
  • Fatigue.  When this happens, your body isn’t getting the energy it needs.  You feel listless and tired.  Your body is lacking energy in order to turn glucose into energy.
  • Blurred Vision.  The same high blood sugar that pulls fluids from your tissues and makes you urinate more often is also causing fluids to be pulled from your eyes which affects your ability to focus. (Mayo Clinic)
If you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, or don’t know if you are either, we can help you change your lifestyle habits.  It is, after all, up to you to change.  No excuses!  No blaming someone else!   It is not the responsibility of your health care practitioner or your insurance company.  It is YOUR choice!

Call Gerry with Healthy Life Institute at 801-893-1190 or 801-358-4777 to schedule a consultation.

Source:, Diabetes Doubles the Risk of Dementia, September 19, 2011