Tue, Jul 16, 2024

High Blood Sugar Linked to Higher Risk for Dementia

Dementia refers to a group of disorders that affect a person's thinking skills, causing symptoms such as short-term memory loss, reduced attention span and impaired reasoning skills. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting 35 million people worldwide. Although the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is unknown, new research is suggesting a link between high blood sugar and the eventual development of Alzheimer's disease.

Understanding the Connection Between Dementia and Blood Sugar Levels

Diabetes is a disorder in which the body stops producing enough insulin to properly maintain glucose levels. This causes the blood sugar levels in the body to rise, risking damage to the blood vessels, heart and other organs. Doctors have known for a long time that patients with diabetes have an increased risk of developing dementia. However, a recent study directly linked high blood sugar levels with a higher likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. This study builds on other evidence that shows that exercising also lowers the risk of developing dementia. These studies indicate that keeping blood sugar levels stable works to protect not only your overall health, but also your brain and thinking skills.

Tips for Keeping Blood Sugar Levels Stable

Since there is no known cure for dementia, it's important to take steps as soon as possible to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and lower your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Doctors recommend daily exercise with a goal of 30 minutes or more on most days of the week. Exercise burns excess glucose in the bloodstream, helping to naturally lower blood sugar levels. It's also important to eat well and maintain a healthy body weight. Choosing a combination of healthy proteins and fat at each meal will work to stabilize blood sugar levels. Limit your intake of sugars, processed carbohydrates and alcohol.

The Importance of Preventative Care

If you or a loved one is experiencing memory loss or any other symptoms of dementia, it's important to seek the care of a physician as early as possible. Often these symptoms are manageable and don't have to affect a person's work, social life or independence.

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1. Crane, Paul K., M.D., M.P.H., Walker, Rod, M.S., Hubbard, Rebecca A., Ph.D., Li, Ge, M.D., Ph.D., Nathan, David M, M.D., Zheng, Hui, Ph.D., Haneuse, Sebastien, Ph.D., Craft, Suzanne, Ph.D., Montine, Thomas J., M.D., Ph.D., Kahn, Steven E., M.B., Ch.B., McCormick, Wayne, M.D., M.P.H., McCurry, Susan M., Ph.D., Bowen, James D., M.D., and Larson, Eric B., M.D., M.P.H. “Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia.” N Engl J Med 2013; 369:540-548. August 8, 2013.

2. DeFina, Laura F., MD, Willis, Benjamin L., MD, MPH, Radford, Nina B., MD, Gao, Ang, MS, Leonard, David, PhD, Haskell, William, PhD, Weiner, Myron F., MD, and Berry, Jarett D., MD, MS. “The Association Between Midlife Cardiorespiratory Fitness Levels and Later-Life Dementia: A Cohort Study.” Ann Intern Med. 2013;158(3):162-168.

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