Prediabetes and brain health are linked. Researchers analyzed data from the UK Biobank of 500,000 people aged 58 years on average, and found that people with higher than normal blood sugar levels were more likely to experience cognitive decline than those without elevated glucose levels.
People with prediabetes have blood sugar levels that are higher than usual, but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It means they are more at risk of developing diabetes.
Prediabetes and Brain Healthy Study
The recent study that associated prediabetes with brain health was conducted as follows:
• Researchers analyzed data from the UK Biobank of 500,000 people aged 58 years on average.
• In the study, researchers investigated how different blood sugar levels, or glycemic states, were associated with performance in cognitive tests over time, dementia diagnoses, and brain structure measured by MRI scans of the brain.
• At recruitment all of the UK Biobank participants underwent an HbA1c test, which determines average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months.
• Participants were divided into five groups on the basis of the results — “low-normal” level of blood sugar, prediabetes, undiagnosed diabetes and diabetes.
• Looking at dementia diagnoses, researchers found that prediabetes was associated with a higher likelihood of vascular dementia, a common form of dementia caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, but not Alzheimer’s disease.
• People with diabetes, meanwhile, were three times more likely to develop vascular dementia than people whose blood sugar levels were
• The results were that people with higher than normal blood sugar levels were 42% more likely to experience cognitive decline over an average of four year.
• Over eight years, they were 54% more likely to develop vascular dementia.
• The associations remained true after other influential factors had been taken into account — including age, deprivation, smoking, BMI and whether or not participants had cardiovascular disease.
Researcher’s Comments on Prediabetes and Brain Health Study
Lead author Dr. Victoria Garfield (UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science and the UCL MRC Unit for Lifelong Health & Ageing) 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 higher blood sugar levels cause worsening brain health.
• However, we believe there is a potential connection that needs to be investigated further.
• Previous research has found a link between poorer cognitive outcomes and diabetes but our study is the first to investigate how having blood sugar levels that are relatively high — but do not yet constitute diabetes — may affect our brain health.
People with prediabetes can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by eating a healthy, balanced diet, being more active, and staying at a healthy weight.
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