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[IP] Diabetes linked to mental decline High blood pressure also tied to cognitive impairment
Jan. 8 People with diabetes and high blood pressure risk not only dying
early, but tend to start losing mental abilities in middle age, researchers
What we saw specifically was actually not that memory declines in people
with diabetes and hypertension, but rather that their speed of doing things
DR. DAVID KNOPMAN
Mayo Clinic THE STUDY showed it was important to start treating the
two conditions, which are both common in the United States and other
countries, as early as possible, the researchers said.
Treatment of diabetes and hypertension is important even in middle
age, not just in the elderly, for preventing cognitive decline in later
Dr. David Knopman of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who led the
study, said in an interview broadcast by satellite.
Knopman and colleagues tested more than 10,000 people from across the
United States who, at first visit, were aged between 47 and 70 years. Six
years later they followed up.
This study showed that diabetes and hypertension were risk factors
losing cognitive function over the six years that we examined people,
They gave the volunteers several tests of mental function.
The ... study measured mental function with three tests a test of
memory and two tests of mental agility, of doing things against the clock,
solving a puzzle of sorts, Knopman said.
What we saw specifically was actually not that memory declines in
people with diabetes and hypertension, but rather that their speed of doing
things mentally declined.
Those with either or both conditions were less able to think on their
feet, he said.
He said that over the six years the loss was small and the patients
themselves would probably not even notice it. But what was striking was how
consistent the losses were over the whole population the decline was
and would become noticeable after more than six years.
POSSIBLE TIE TO ALZHEIMERS
Knopman said the findings, published in the journal Neurology,
supported other work that associates mental decline with diabetes. Smoking
having high cholesterol levels were not linked with the mental declines, the
There may be a link to Alzheimers, he added.
We feel that the cognitive loss (seen in) diabetes and hypertension
might make a person more susceptible to developing Alzheimers disease in the
future, Knopman said.
These things dont cause Alzheimers disease, but they might make it
more likely that a person would get it later in life.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that destroys the body's ability to
produce insulin, a hormone that helps the body stash various nutrients in
cells. This form of the disease, which most often develops in childhood,
accounts for 5 to 10 percent of cases.
Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adulthood and is caused by either the
body's inability to make enough, or to effectively use, insulin. This form of
diabetes accounts for 90 to 95 percent of cases.
Women can develop a form of type 2 diabetes during pregnancy called
gestational diabetes. Approximately 40 percent of women with gestational
diabetes who are obese before pregnancy develop type 2 diabetes within four
Constant sensation of thirst
Unexplained weight loss
Sudden vision changes
Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
Slow healing sores
People are more likely to develop diabetes if they are obese or have a family
history of the disorder. And as age increases, so does the risk of diabetes.
In addition, certain groups are at increased risk for diabetes, including
blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans.
Some cases cannot be prevented. However, maintaining a healthy weight and
exercising regularly may help protect against the development of type 2
diabetes in many people.
The American Diabetes Association recommends blood glucose screenings
beginning at age 45, or younger if someone has a family history of diabetes,
is obese or has other risk factors.
At least a third of people with type 2 diabetes go untreated because they
dont know they have the condition. Many of these people will be diagnosed
with diabetes only after they have developed serious complications, such as
heart attack, kidney disease or impaired eyesight.
People with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin shots to live and are
advised to carefully watch their diets.
People with type 2 diabetes may be able to control their blood sugar
through diet and exercise. Others may need to take oral diabetes medicines to
lower their blood glucose levels. If this doesn't work, insulin may be
Source: American Diabetes Association
Knopman said it was not clear how the two conditions, which affect
million of Americans, might cause a loss of brain function. An estimated 14
million to 15 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, which develops later in
life, and as many as 50 million Americans aged 6 and older have high blood
Knopman said the study was unusual in that it included more than
2,000 African-Americans, who are often not included in medical studies and
have an overall higher risk than whites of developing diabetes and high blood
He said that even though blacks were more likely than whites to
those conditions, they were no more likely to suffer mental losses due to
) 2001 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or
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written consent of Reuters.
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