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Midlife Diabetes Linked to Memory Problems Later, Study Finds

By    |   Tuesday, 30 Dec 2014 06:34 PM

Diabetes presents serious health risks to millions of people worldwide and the management of the disease can be a challenge. Current research indicating midlife diabetes and even prediabetes may be linked to memory problems later in life adds a new concern for diabetics and their families.

Type 2 diabetes generally develops later in life and early symptoms may include increased thirst, urination, weight gain, and blurred vision. The disease develops gradually and often in people who are overweight or obese, In addition, "Family history and genes play a role in Type 2 diabetes. Low activity level, poor diet, and excess body weight around the waist increase your chance of getting the disease," reports MedlinePlus.

A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine and funded by the National Institutes of Health examined "whether diabetes in midlife is associated with 20-year cognitive decline." The study sample included 13,351 adults aged 48 to 67 years with diabetes. Cognitive assessment measures included delayed word recall, digit symbol substitution, and word fluency tests.

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Researchers Andreea M. Rawlings and colleagues determined that diabetes in midlife was associated with a 19 percent greater cognitive decline over 20 years. They further determined that cognitive decline was significantly greater among persons with prediabetes compared to those with normal blood sugar levels, and poorly controlled diabetes led to a greater cognitive decline than in cases where the disease was managed effectively. Based on that data, researchers concluded, "Diabetes prevention and glucose control in midlife may protect against late-life cognitive decline."

Although researchers determined that midlife diabetes was linked to memory problems later in life, they were not able to "determine if the blood sugar disorders were the actual cause of the memory and thinking issues," reports HealthDay. "We know that cognitive decline occurs five to seven years before dementia. Our goal was to look at how diabetes might be contributing," said Elizabeth Selvin, researcher and associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

Selvin also stated, "The lesson is that to have a healthy brain when you're 70, you need to eat right and exercise when you're 50." Further, "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," reports Science Daily.

This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.

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Diabetes presents serious health risks to millions of people worldwide and the management of the disease can be a challenge. Current research indicating midlife diabetes and even prediabetes may be linked to memory problems later in life adds a new concern for diabetics and their families.
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