Diabetes diagnosis in midlife can increase the risk of cognitive decline and memory problems in old age, an American study says.
Decline in cognition and memory problems can further lead to the onset of dementia, a syndrome related to the brain that leads to memory loss, difficulties in communicating, thinking, planning and performing daily routines; researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said in a statement.
Dr Elizabeth Selvin and her research team found that diabetes accelerated brain ageing. They said the process of cognitive decline starts five years earlier in diabetics compared to their non-diabetic peers. So the cognitive decline in a 60-year-old diabetic patient will be equal to that of a 65-year-old healthy person.
Data for the study came from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC). Researchers followed 15,792 middle-aged people in US for 20 years and evaluated cognitive function in them at five different stages of the study.
People with poorly managed diabetes experienced greatest decline in cognition, 19 percent more than those who were taking proper care to control the condition.
Selvin said that the abnormalities in blood vessels caused by diabetes and unhealthy lifestyle habits can cause dementia.
"There are many ways we can reduce the impact of cerebral blood vessel disease -- by prevention or control of diabetes and hypertension, reduction in smoking, increase in exercise and improvements in diet," co-author of the study A. Richey Sharrett, said in a news release.
Concerned with the findings, researchers urged the public to take necessary steps 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 said.
Findings of the study have been reported in Annals of Internal Medicine.
This is not the first study to show a direct link between diabetes and brain disorders. A study published last December suggested that dementia may be one of the end stages of diabetes. Researchers from Albany University found that high levels of insulin involved with type 2 diabetes entered the brain, disturbed functions of important chemicals, led to the formation of protein plaques and tangles, and finally damaged the brain cells.
In another study reported in January, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) found that diabetic women with high levels of oestrogen had increased risk of developing dementia than the others.
Similarly, in July, a team of German researchers reported that a diabetic drug can be highly effective in preventing Alzheimer's.