And yet another study showing the link between blood sugar and risk for dementia. This study, in the NEJM, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1215740, was carried out over 7 years on average and the HMO that did the study had lots of blood sugar data over that time. The association of high blood sugar not defined as diabetes but pre-diabetes was linked to a moderate increase in risk for dementia (18% higher). However, in those with diabetes and average blood sugars at 190mg% versus 160mg%, the risk was 40% higher.
The outcome of dementia due to sustained high blood glucose levels has been referred to as Type 3 diabetes or “neuroaging”. Regardless of what we call it, the concept here is clear: glucose (sugar) is toxic to the body and perhaps by keeping better control of our diabetes, or staving off diabetes through aerobic exercise and a better diet, we just might get Alzheimer’s later than sooner. This may be one of the “secrets” to living independently longer instead of relying upon others or memory care. It is noteworthy that within 7 years the risk of diabetes was measured by detecting more people having developed dementia within this time-frame, so it’s a bit more clear as to the short time-frame in which deterioration occurs, not decades, but just a few years. Interpretation: If you are an older adult with diabetes and “feel just fine” but are not at your “A1C goal”, consider thinking differently since your risk of dementia and your ability to remain independent is being defined for you.
One last comment: Attaining too tight control of your diabetes can increase your risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and low blood sugar is also a risk for cognitive impairment and dementia. So remember- “When you’re in balance you’re in control”! Take charge of your diabetes! It was falsely reported in a health newsletter that this study contradicts the study where low blood sugar is a link to dementia, because both high and abnormally low blood sugars are risk factors for dementia.