Thomas Ramey Watson

Dementia and Low Blood Sugar: Dangerous Combo for Diabetic Seniors

MONDAY, June 10, 2013 — In older adults with diabetes, low blood sugar and cognitive decline may create a vicious cycle, putting seniors at risk for serious short- and long-term health problems, suggests a study published today in JAMA Internal Medicine. With more than a quarter of U.S. adults over age 65 now living with diabetes, the findings are cause for concern for elderly patients and caregivers alike.

People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, yet many aren’t informed about the link. “Whether you’re a diabetes patient or caregiver or doctor, we need to be increasingly aware that there is a very close and interrelated relationship between diabetes and dementia,” said Kristine Yaffe, MD, the primary author of the new study and a geriatric neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco.

Adults with diabetes are at higher risk for vascular disease and stroke, which may make them more susceptible to cognitive disorders. But Dr. Yaffe and her colleagues wanted to explore whether the side effects of some diabetes medications — specifically hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar — might also impact dementia risk.

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