Middle Age Diabetes Linked To Brain Cell Loss Later

shutterstock_132113291Researchers from the Mayo Clinic has indicated that diabetes and high blood pressure that develops in middle age may likely affect the rate of brain cell loss and damage later in life. This leads to diabetics experiencing more problems with memory and thinking than people who do not have diabetes or high blood pressure. The result of the study is published in the March online issue of Neurology.

Middle age is defined as the age between 40 to 64 while senior age is from 65 and older. The study involved the evaluation of thinking and memory skills of 1,437 participants with an average age of 80 years old. The participants had either no thinking or memory problems or had mild memory and thinking problems. The researchers then took brains scans and checked for markers of brain damage that can be a precursor to dementia. The medical records of the participants were also reviewed to determine whether they have been diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure in middle age or later.

The review indicated that 72 of the participants developed diabetes in middle age, 142 in old age while 1,192 did not have diabetes. As for high blood pressure, 449 of the participants developed it in middle age, 448 in old age while 369 of the participants did not have it.

When compared to the participants with no diabetes diagnosis, those who developed diabetes in middle age came up with a total brain volume average that is 2.9 percent smaller. More notable, the volume was 4 percent smaller in the hippocampus area of the brain. Those who developed diabetes in middle age also are two times more likely to get thinking and memory problems.

People who developed high blood pressure in middle age were twice as likely to show areas of brain damage as compared to the participants who did not suffer from high blood pressure.

According to Rosebud Roberts M.B., Ch.B., a Mayo Clinic epidemiologist and study author, “People who developed diabetes even in old age also were more likely to have areas of brain damage. Conversely, there were not many effects from high blood pressure that developed in old age. 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. In particular, diabetes has adverse effects regardless of the age at which diabetes develops.”

“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,” Roberts further added.

Source: Mayo Clinic. “Diabetes in Middle Age May Lead to Brain Cell Loss Later in Life.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140319164855.htm>.


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