It is not surprising that people who have diabetes often times have complications, which can range anywhere from infections to amputations. This is why it is really important for people to keep their blood sugar under control, since the higher and less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to suffer from complications. A new study is showing that these complications diabetics often suffer can make them more susceptible to developing dementia as they get older, and this is compared to diabetics that do not have such complications.
This new study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, which is the journal put out by the Endocrine Society. If you did not know, people who are diabetic have a pancreas that does not produce enough insulin, which is a hormone. Sometimes the body does produce enough insulin but the body ends up not being able to use the insulin the right way and then they have trouble processing the sugar. If the blood sugar levels remain at a high level due to the diabetes being uncontrolled, then serious complications are likely to develop, and these complications include blindness, kidney failure, and decreased blood flow to the limbs. If the limbs have decreased blood flow for long periods of time, then this leads to the tissue dying, and that leads to limb amputations. About 29 million Americans are suffering from diabetes, according to the Endocrine Society’s Endocrine Facts and Figures Report. If you take 100 people who are diabetic, you will find 21 have nerve damage, 27 have diabetic kidney disease, and around 33 of them have diabetic eye disease, which clouds vision and can lead to severe and permanent vision loss if not treated properly.
One of the authors of the study was Wei-Chi Chiu, who works at National Taiwan University College of Public Health, Fu Jen Catholic University, and Cathay General Hospital. Chiu said that “ Our research is the first nationwide study to examine how the severity and progression of diabetes is related to dementia diagnosis rates in an older population.” The researchers found that as the diabetes disease progresses, the person will experience more complications from the disease, and then the risk of dementia also rises. This was a 12-year population-based cohort study, which usesd the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database’s records. These records dated back to 1999, and then identified 431,178 people that were over the age of 50 and had been recently diagnosed with diabetes. The researchers then looked at the records to determine just how many people from the cohort study were admitted to the hospital or had three outpatient visits for dementia after the diagnosis of diabetes. The researchers used an adapted version of the Diabetes Complications Severity Index to help evaluate the progression of diabetes on an individual basis. The Diabetes Complications Severity Index is what is used to predict deaths and hospitalizations among the population with diabetes.
Within the cohort study group, there were 26,856 people, which is 6.2 percent, that were diagnosed with dementia. The risk was higher among the people who had a higher score on the Diabetes Complications Severity Index when compared to the people who had a lower score on the Severity Index. Chiu said that “Managing the disease can help prevent the onset of dementia later in life.” This study really helps put into focus the fact that the complications from diabetes have long-term consequences, some of which are still not known to researchers or doctors. This is just another reason why people with diabetes need to make it a priority to get their blood sugars under control, even if it was suspected that the diabetes has been undiagnosed for many years beforehand. It is never too late to start taking control of your diabetes, especially if you have a family history of dementia and other health issues. Some people do control their diabetes very well and still have complications from the disease, since diabetes is such a progressive and aggressive disease, but this is just another reason why it’s even more important to keep eating right, exercising and taking the medications you were prescribed.