Prediabetes Image: UnitedFamilyMedicine.Org

Prediabetes may negatively affect consumers’ brain health ─Research

*Experts worry about the risk of cognitive decline when blood sugar remains higher than normal to help consumers protect their brain health into older age

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Researchers in a fresh study at the University College London, in the United Kingdom (UK), have found a link between prediabetes and impaired brain function.

According to the team’s findings, consumers with consistently high blood sugar are at an increased risk of developing dementia and experiencing cognitive decline.

Dr. Victoria Garfield, one of the researchers, said: “Our research shows a possible link between higher blood sugar levels ─ a state often described as ‘prediabetes’ ─ and higher risks of cognitive decline and vascular dementia.

“As an observational study, it cannot prove high blood sugar levels cause worsening brain health.

“However, we believe there is a potential connection that needs to be investigated further.”

On the link between blood sugar and brain function for the study, the researchers analysed data from individuals involved in the UK Biobank dataset.

All of the participants received MRI brain scans, regular blood work to measure their blood sugar levels, and cognitive assessments.

With all of this information, the researchers worked to determine what effect blood sugar has on brain function.

The researchers discovered that brain health worsened over time among the participants with the highest blood sugar levels.

Study findings indicated that these participants were at an increased risk of developing vascular dementia and were over 40 percent more likely to experience mild cognitive decline.

Dr. Garfield stated: “Previous research has found a link between poorer cognitive outcomes and diabetes, but our study is the first to investigate how having high blood sugar levels that are relatively high, but do not yet constitute diabetes, may affect our brain health.”

The study, according to the scientists, showed that participants who had been diagnosed with diabetes had a similar rate of cognitive decline as participants with prediabetes. However, the risk of dementia was three times higher for participants with diabetes. While there was no increased risk of Alzheimer’s for participants with prediabetes, the researchers found that progressing to diabetes also increased the risk of this condition.

Going forward, the researchers hope that more work is done to better understand the relationship with prediabetes and brain function.

They said that better prevention strategies could be used to lower the number of prediabetes cases and help consumers protect their brain health into older age.

Researcher Nishi Chaturvedi also said: “In this relatively young age group, the risks of cognitive decline and of dementia are very low; the excess risks we observe in relation to elevated blood sugar only modestly increase the absolute rates of ill health.

“Seeing whether these effects persist as people get older, and where absolute rates of disease get higher, will be important.

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