This metabolic disorder is too often treated as not much of a problem by those who don’t carry its burden. Yet, there is new evidence to suggest that even brains don’t like type 2 diabetes. These results could prove revolutionary in the way we think, treat, and manage the disorder.
The decline of mental health over time has long been linked with old age, as it is a common belief that old age leads to dementia. But, this new study, made under the leadership of neurologists from Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre and published in the Neurology journal this Wednesday, shows a pretty different result.
The main result of the study is that diabetes patients have a staggering 75% increased risk of developing one form of dementia or another, compared to those who don’t have the metabolic disorder.
The main symptoms that develop with Type 2 diabetes are higher levels of blood sugar, and the cause, a strong resistance to insulin. These two are cascading effects which over time have the unfortunate result of constricting blood flow to the brain through inflammation and by impairing its blood vessels.
The study was conducted on a control group of 40 individuals between the ages of 50 and 85. Of these, the brains scans of the 19 who had type two diabetes showed abnormally straitened blood vessels throughout the entirety of their brains. These results did not show up for the remaining 21 who did not have the disorder.
Although the differences found were not that strong, scientists say, they were pretty obvious and impossible two dismiss. For the purpose of furthering the study, another set of tests were made on the same 40 subjects two years later.
The more recent results indicated the same differences, only much more pronounced. The diabetics’ blood vessels were much more rigid, showed less flexibility when prompted by different brain exercises to either contract or expand. Also, the diabetics had brains which were smaller in volume. This points to brain atrophy, a common cause of dementia.
Memory tests, complex reasoning tests, learning and daily functioning tests showed promising results on the healthy control group, yet were much worse off with those suffering from diabetes.
The most worrying of the blood flow changes were shown by those of the patients with higher levels of inflammation. Consequently, those with poor control over their glycemic levels as they entered the tests showed slow and troubling results in mental functioning.
The scientists conclude that treatment with statins, anti-inflammatory medicine, and beta-blockers might help slow the onset of dementia in diabetes patients down to normal levels.
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