A recent research indicates that people who are diabetics in their midlife are more at risk of developing memory loss down the road. They say that in their 20 next years, they can experience cognitive problems. Having less than healthy blood sugar levels, the new research by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests these individuals are more susceptible to aging.
It has been discovered that diabetic patients’ minds age at an accelerated rate, akin to 5 years faster than a non-diabetic individual. This could mean anything from executive function to lower recollection and recalling skills. These are similar to the starting symptoms associated with dementia, so severe that this can interfere with normal everyday bodily and cognitive functions of a patient.
In the Dec. 2 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, research studies to prove the link between dementia and diabetes were published. This study has been a long time coming, since it looked at individuals and their trajectory from diabetic to loss of cognitive functions. Experts have weighed in on these findings with calls for starting early with eating habits. A healthy diet is the only deterrent for staving off both dementia and diabetes. The problem is exacerbated whether a person is in the diabetes or pre-diabetes stage. Prevention it seems is the cure here.
The study has been undertaken by Elizabeth Selvin, PhD, MPH. She’s based in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and was the study leader overseeing the effects of diabetes on the human mind. According to her, if a person thinks in terms of living with full cognitive efficiency in the future, they should dissociate themselves with things that are most likely to cause diabetes. If a subject suffers from poor glucose control, they need to take the necessary steps to avoid deterioration of the mind.
Selvin and her team compiled a lot of data from a 1987 study by Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC) as her basis. In this study, 15,792 adults in their 30s were selected from 4 US communities for a reliable sample size. These people came from Maryland, Mississippi, Minnesota and North Carolina. These participants were observed from 1987 to 1989 and then between the years 2011 and 2013. Data pertaining to their cognitive functions were taken down in 1990 to 92 and 1996 to 98. By evenly spreading out throughout these years, a clear picture was beginning to form once the data was analysed.
First the researchers compared the rate of cognitive decline that occurs as part of aging normally. They then did the same thing with the ARIC participants. The data was compared and it was found the participants with poor diabetes control had 19% more decline than those whose diabetes was managed or was at pre-diabetes stage. Furthermore, the rate of decline was the same for African Americans and Caucasians.
According to Dr Selvin, these results have one major conclusion. The importance of relying on exercise, weight controlling techniques and a well-balanced diet are essential for people who don’t want to be at risk from diabetes. And it’s not just for the prevention of diabetes but the dementia that can potentially develop further down the line.
To start, losing 5% to 10% of body weight is enough to keep the risk of developing diabetes at bay. This way, elevated sugar levels (glucose) don’t get the chance to wreck havoc on the human body. The damage to tissues and the vascular system all over the body can occur if a high glucose level persists. The troubles for diabetes patients don’t stop there are there is a high likelihood of contracting kidney disease, extreme nerve damage and even blindness can occur.
Sure there are ways to keep your diabetes control with a combination of medication, physical activities and dietary changes, but the best strategy to adopt is to prevent the occurrence of diabetes in the first place. Not to mention the emotional toil it takes on the sufferer and the people closest to them.
At this stage, when you add the costs associated with dementia, suddenly the problem seems more daunting than previously believed. Quality care for diabetes patients can delay the onset of dementia for a few years and this change alone can have a major impact on the provision of healthcare in later years. To put it into perspective, US medical care costs will reach $159 billion per year, just for treating dementia.
And this figure is expected to grow to an astronomical 80% by 2040. Dementia can lead to Alzheimer’s disease and that is one nightmare scenario medical experts and scientists are hard at work to avoid and control. One in every 3 Americans suffers from diabetes and it’s high time efforts are made to control this menace from becoming a hydra-headed medical monster.