A new scientific study has shed light on the connection between prediabetes and the heightened risk of dementia later in life. The study, conducted by Elizabeth Selvin, a professor of epidemiology, and Jiaqi Hu, a doctoral student, has drawn attention to the potential long-term consequences of prediabetes and the importance of early intervention. Published in the journal Diabetologia, the research underscores the need for preventive measures to mitigate the risk of dementia among individuals with prediabetes.
Prediabetes is a condition characterized by blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet in the diabetic range. Disturbingly, estimates suggest that millions of people under the age of 60 in the United States are affected by prediabetes. However, due to its asymptomatic nature, prediabetes often goes undiagnosed until it progresses to type-2 diabetes or triggers related health complications.
Selvin and Hu’s study utilized data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, involving participants aged 45 to 64 from four counties across the United States. The research revealed a significant correlation between developing type-2 diabetes before the age of 60 and a threefold increase in the risk of dementia compared to those without diabetes. The findings underscored the crucial role of diabetes development in mediating the association between prediabetes and dementia risk.
The Link between Diabetes and Dementia:
While the exact mechanism underlying the relationship between diabetes and dementia remains unclear, research suggests several potential pathways. The study’s authors, Selvin and Hu, noted that preventing the progression from prediabetes to diabetes could potentially help mitigate the risk of dementia in later years. It is crucial to address the development of diabetes as an essential step in minimizing the long-term consequences associated with prediabetes.
Age and Diabetes:
The study also highlighted the impact of age on the dementia risk associated with diabetes. Notably, individuals who were diagnosed with type-2 diabetes in their 70s exhibited a reduced risk of dementia, around 23%. Moreover, those who developed diabetes in their 80s or 90s did not face a significantly higher risk compared to individuals without diabetes. These findings emphasize the importance of early detection and intervention to manage prediabetes and prevent its progression to diabetes.
Dr. Richard Isaacson, a preventive neurologist, and Alzheimer’s disease researcher, commented on the study’s results, emphasizing the need for action when individuals receive a diagnosis of prediabetes or borderline diabetes. Dr. Isaacson stressed the importance of taking steps to improve brain health outcomes, including lifestyle modifications, upon receiving such diagnoses.
Prediabetes is often considered a silent predator, silently progressing without evident symptoms. Certain risk factors, including obesity or overweight, age over 44, insufficient exercise, family history of type-2 diabetes, a history of diabetes during pregnancy, and giving birth to a large baby, increase the likelihood of developing prediabetes. Screening for prediabetes or diabetes is recommended for all adults aged 35 to 70 who are medically classified as overweight or obese, as suggested by the US Preventive Services Task Force.
The recent scientific study by Selvin and Hu has shed light on the concerning connection between prediabetes and an increased risk of dementia later in life. The findings emphasize the importance of early detection, preventive measures, and effective management strategies to mitigate the progression of prediabetes to diabetes.