Maddeningly sweet - The link between diabetes and dementia

  • By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi

Developing diabetes in the middle age increases your chances of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in the twilight years of life!

That a link exists between diabetes and mental disorders was proven long back. People who have diabetes are at high risk of developing cognitive impairment, dementia or Alzheimer’s in the old age. At times, people who don’t have diabetes per se, but have defective insulin secretion or uptake mechanisms too are prone to developing serious mental conditions.

The longer the duration of suffering from diabetes and greater the severity of it, the higher are the chances of developing dementia.

Relevant studies show that diabetes in associated with a 47% increased risk of developing dementia and 39% increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and 138% increased risk of developing vascular dementia.

Studies also show that people who underwent treatment for diabetes have better cognitive functioning and less cognitive decline over the years as compared to the ones who did not undergo any form of treatment.

Vascular dementia is a cause for serious concern in elderly people with diabetes. Vascular dementia occurs when the brain blood vessels are blocked due to various reasons leading to poor oxygen supply to the brain. This is a kind of small stroke and something that happens gradually over the years.
The symptoms that arise due to this are too embarrassing for the old people.

What exactly happens in the brain of a diabetic person for him to develop the cognitive impairments is poorly understood. Scientists postulate that the complex way in which diabetes renders the brain unfit to make use of available glucose is responsible for development of cognitive decline and eventually Alzheimer’s disease.

In an attempt to better understand why diabetes and dementia are so inter-connected, diabetic people who also suffered from dementia, showed a marked improvement in their cognitive functions when given anti-diabetic medications.

Type II diabetes is associated with development of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in the old age. Diabetes is a multifaceted disease that kills in more ways than one!