High blood sugar levels linked to Dementia risk

30th Aug 2013



Raised blood sugar levels seem to be associated with an increased risk of dementia, even in people who do not have diabetes, a study has found.

Scientists at Group Health Research Institute and the University of Washington in the US, found a close association between blood glucose levels and dementia risk in a group of 2000 patients, aged 65 and over, who had taken part in a study looking at risk factors for cognitive decline since 1994.

The scientists reported that average blood sugar levels over a five-year period were significantly associated with dementia risk. Even in apparently healthy participants, it was observed that a blood sugar level increase from 100 to 115 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl) raised the risk of dementia by 18%. In patients with diabetes blood sugar tends to be higher than average, and the risk of dementia was also found to be higher. A diabetes patient with a glucose reading of 190 mg/dl was 40% more at risk than one with a level of 160 mg/dl.

Blood sugar levels are affected by a number of factors such as an individual’s metabolism as well as what you eat. The scientists did note that taking walks could help to reduce the risk of dementia.

Dr Paul Crane, whose findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine, said: “The most interesting finding was that every incrementally higher glucose level was associated with a higher risk of dementia in people who did not have diabetes.

“We have no data to suggest that people who make changes to lower their glucose improve their dementia risk.”

More research is planned to uncover what underlies the link between blood sugar and dementia.



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