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Diabetes 'could lead to dementia'

Diabetes 'could lead to dementia'
20th March 2014

People who develop diabetes in middle age are more likely to be diagnosed with dementia later in life, a new study reveals.

Researchers in the US have stated that brain volume can decrease due to diabetes or high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to memory problems.

Dr Rosebud Roberts, lead author of the report, said: "Potentially, if we can prevent or control diabetes and high blood pressure in middle age, we can prevent or delay the brain damage that occurs decades later and leads to memory and thinking problems and dementia."

The study, which was published in the journal Neurology, analysed approximately 1,400 people aged around 80 years old had their memory skills tested.

None suffered from dementia but a number did have mild problems with their remembering abilities, while some had no issues.

However, the participants were able to be separated into three groups - those who developed diabetes in middle age (72 people), those who were diagnosed later in life (142 people) and those who did not have the condition.

The 72 individuals who were told they have diabetes when they were between 40 and 65 were found to have a brain volume 2.9 per cent smaller than the average.

It was worse in the hippocampus area of the brain, where  the volume was four per cent smaller, while these people were also found to be twice as likely to have memory problems.

Dr Roberts said: "Overall, our findings suggest that the effects of these diseases on the brain take decades to develop and show up as brain damage and lead to symptoms that affect their memory and other thinking skills."

Simon Ridley, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, expressed scepticism about the research due to its lack of subjects who had dementia.

However, he did state that previous research has shown there is a link between diabetes and diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Find out about dementia care and support services at Barchester care homes.