I've noticed a couple of posts in the last weeks about diabetes and memory loss and wanted to share this new study that links diabetes in middle age (defined in the study as 40-64) with memory problems later in life.
Short term memory loss, Bruno? The comment was meant in jest but unfortunately, both low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) and elevated blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) over extended periods of time have been known to negatively impact cranial function. This Medscape interview quotes Dr. Mankovsky with the following statement
Brain damage can occur in 3 different ways. It can be affected by cerebrovascular disorders; it's well known that diabetes is an independent risk factor for stroke. Also, diabetes could lead to cognitive impairments and even dementia; many trials have confirmed that diabetes is associated with a 2- to 3-times higher risk for Alzheimer disease. Finally, diabetes is also associated with a higher risk for depression. So, unfortunately, there are 3 ways that diabetes can lead to brain damage.
My own endo told me that one of his patients, a woman who was obsessed with maintaining low blood sugar levels, suffered multiple, relatively severe hypoglycemic episodes. This occurred repeatedly despite his warnings to the patient to reduce her insulin doses as well as to monitor her blood glucose levels more frequently. He stressed the importance of keeping blood sugar levels above 80mg/Dl. Despite the repeated warnings, she continued to use amounts of insulin greater than her needs and suffered from chronic hypoglycemic episodes. Eventually, she began to show gradual declines in brain function including short term memory loss (she was tested for but did not suffer from Alzheimer's, at least not based on conventional diagnostic markers). She is now barely functional mentally and requires the services of caregivers (the primary one is her husband). She no longer suffers from serious hypoglycemic episodes since her insulin doses are now administered by caregivers and in conservative doses.
The latter serves as a poignant reminder that all diabetics must strive to maintain blood sugar levels that are as close to "normal" values as possible. Too high and the resulting glycation will damage cells throughout the body including irreplaceable neurons (brain / nerve damage) and vital internal organs (including kidneys, heart and eyes). Too low and damage to the brain will be caused not by glycation but from insufficient glucose/deprivation to fuel healthy brain functions.
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