How does diabetes affect cognitive functions?
Researchers found that when people have diabetes, it can promote long-term cognitive decline. Poor blood sugar control seems to affect brain function decline later in life.
Scientists from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London and researchers from the Peking University Clinical Research Institute found in their current study that diabetes can indicate long-term cognitive decline. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Diabetologia".
Blood sugar control affects cognitive decline
The research work included a total of 5,189 men and women with an average age of 66 years. The study found that diabetes favored long-term cognitive decline in those affected. The study underpins studies that have already linked diabetes to cognitive performance. This appears to be due to a relationship between general blood sugar control and a subsequent risk of cognitive decline.
Data came from the longitudinal study of aging
The data used in the current study come from the English "Longitudinal Study of Aging". The information collected is actually used to examine the aging process, including life expectancy and health trends. The scientists now assessed the cognitive functions based on the records of the second wave of the database from 2004 to 2005. From this point on, the experts analyzed the newly acquired data every two years, up to the seventh wave of the survey, which took place from 2014 to to 2015 was enough.
Higher levels of glycosylated hemoglobin led to negative effects
During the investigation, the researchers monitored the levels of glycated hemoglobin (also known as HbA1c; a measure of blood sugar control) in the participants. Baseline glycated hemoglobin values were also recorded. The researchers found that higher levels of glycosylated hemoglobin are strongly associated with a higher rate of memory loss, executive functions, and cognitive functions. The results remained statistically significant even when factors such as age, gender, body mass index, alcohol consumption and heart disease were taken into account.
Results support the association of diabetes with a subsequent cognitive decline
The scientists also found that a higher level of HbA1c was directly related to a higher rate of cognitive decline. This was irrespective of whether the participants had diabetes or not. The study provides evidence that supports the association of diabetes with a subsequent cognitive decline, explains the study author Dr. Wuxiang Xie. In addition, the results show a linear correlation between circulating HbA1c levels and cognitive decline, regardless of diabetic status, the expert adds.
How do I lower my risk of type 2 diabetes and cognitive impairment?
There are several ways you can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and cognitive impairment. This includes a healthy body weight, a healthy and balanced diet, the restriction of alcohol intake, the cessation of smoking, regular sports activities and the control of blood pressure, the experts explain.
More studies are needed
Interventions that delay the onset of diabetes and management strategies for controlling blood sugar could reduce the progression of subsequent cognitive decline in the long term, the doctors explain. However, further studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of maintaining optimal blood sugar control on cognitive decline. (as)