01 December 2014 - MedicalXpress - Diabetes in midlife linked to significant cognitive decline 20 years later
People diagnosed with diabetes in midlife are more likely to experience significant memory and cognitive problems during the next 20 years than those with healthy blood sugar levels, new research suggests.
The researchers found that diabetes appears to age the mind roughly five years faster beyond the normal effects of aging. For example, on average, a 60-year-old with diabetes experiences cognitive decline on par with a healthy 65-year-old aging normally. Decline in memory, word recall and executive function is strongly associated with progression to dementia, a loss of mental capacity severe enough to interfere with a person's daily functioning.
"The lesson is that to have a healthy brain when you're 70, you need to eat right and exercise when you're 50," says study leader Elizabeth Selvin, PhD, MPH, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "There is a substantial cognitive decline associated with diabetes, pre-diabetes and poor glucose control in people with diabetes. And we know how to prevent or delay the diabetes associated with this decline."
Selvin says the results underscore the importance of using a combination of weight control, exercise and a healthy diet to prevent diabetes.
"If we can do a better job at preventing diabetes and controlling diabetes, we can prevent the progression to dementia for many people," Selvin says. "Even delaying dementia by a few years could have a huge impact on the population, from quality of life to health care costs."
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