Factors behind cognitive deficits in diabetes revealed

September 2nd, 2010 - 3:36 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Sep 02 (ANI): A new study has concluded that older adults with diabetes who have high blood pressure, walk slowly or lose their balance, or believe they’re in bad health, are significantly more likely to have weaker memory and slower, more rigid cognitive processing than those without these problems.

These three health factors stood out from more than a dozen suspected to shape how Type 2 diabetes is frequently shadowed by cognitive impairment, including dementia.

An analysis has stressed that although these factors might not actually cause cognitive problems, their presence can warn doctors that such problems may exist or soon develop.

“Awareness of the link between diabetes and cognition could help people realize how important it is to manage this disease–and to motivate them to do so,” said co-author Dr. Roger Dixon, of the University of Alberta.

Type 2 diabetes has been found by other researchers to nearly double the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, said Dixon, who studies how health affects cognition in aging.

As diabetes becomes more common, this heightened risk could dramatically hike the number of older people with dementia - a double whammy of serious chronic disease.

Among people older than 60, the U.S. prevalence of Type 2 diabetes is more than 23 percent, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive & Kidney Diseases.

The Canadian prevalence is nearly 19 percent, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

An analysis of older Canadians living in British Columbia — 41 with Type 2 diabetes (ages 55-81) and 458 matched healthy controls (ages 53-90) — found that systolic blood pressure (the top number, or maximum pressure on artery walls during a single heartbeat), a low combination score for gait and balance, and a patient’s own reports of poor health all played a statistically significant role in the relationship between diabetes and cognitive impairment relationship.

The results highlight factors that may work indirectly, gradually and cumulatively to make older diabetics more likely to develop dementia. Researchers tested 13 different variables in all, in the areas of general fitness, emotional health, subjective and functional health, and lifestyle activities.

The study has been published in September’s Neuropsychology. (ANI)

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