Issue 23, September 2010
3. New Study Singles out Factors Linked to Cognitive Deficits in Type 2 Diabetes

     Older adults with diabetes should be very careful if they have high blood pressure, or walk slowly or lose their balance, or believe they are in bad health. These three parameters are the most important suspects in the susceptibility of T2 diabetes patients into cognitive disorders, including dementia. "Such people are significantly more prone to have weaker memory and slower, more rigid cognitive processing than those without these problems", New research published by the American Psychological Association in September'sNeuropsychology notes.

     T2 diabetes patients have nearly double the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. "Awareness of the link between diabetes and cognition could help people realize how important it is to manage this disease--and to motivate them to do so," said co-author Roger Dixon, PhD, of the University of Alberta.

     From their study in T2 subjects consisting of older Canadians living in British Columbia -- 41 with Type 2 diabetes (ages 55-81) and 458 matched healthy controls (ages 53-90) -- , the researchers concluded that the three parameters as mentioned earlier all played a statistically significant and linear role in the relationship between diabetes and cognitive impairment . The results highlight factors that may work indirectly, gradually and cumulatively to make older diabetics more likely to develop dementia.

     Of the three parameters it is well known that diabetes and hypertension go hand in hand. The results suggest that diabetes and cognition may be connected via diabetics' vascular problems. But the other two parameters are new revelations. Combined gait and balance had the greatest influence, accounting for between 32 percent and 62 percent of performance on seven cognitive tests. Also what people think about their own health is of paramount importance. That could be attributed to stress or depression." It's important to pay attention to the health beliefs of older adults, not because they are necessarily accurate or valid indicators of specific health status, but because they might track overall health," Dixon said.

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