This blood sugar test can predict memory loss, may show Alzheimer’s disease risk

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In a new study from the University of Turku, researchers found that already a higher two-hour glucose level in the glucose tolerance test predicts worse performance in a test measuring episodic memory after ten years.

The decline in episodic memory is one of the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Diabetes is known to be an independent risk factor for memory disorders.

Previous studies have shown that risk factors for diabetes, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, and decreased insulin sensitivity are linked to declining in cognitive functions and heightened risk of developing memory disorders.

Two-hour glucose in a glucose tolerance test is a commonly used test in healthcare services, where it is used to study whether the person being tested has diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance.

According to the definition, a person has impaired glucose tolerance when the glucose level in the two-hour glucose tolerance test is elevated, but the diagnostic criteria for diabetes are not met.

In the study, the team examined whether the glucose levels of the two-hour glucose tolerance test are connected to cognitive functions after a ten-year follow-up period. The surveys were conducted in 2000–2002 and 2011 for a total of 961 participants.

Memory and other cognitive functions were measured with three tests which are commonly used in e.g. diagnostics and follow-up of patients suffering from memory disorders.

The study found that higher blood sugar level measured in a glucose tolerance test in 2001–2002 was linked to weaker performance in a memory test conducted in 2011.

The glucose level measured in the two-hour glucose tolerance test was also associated with a greater decline in the results of the test during the follow-up period.

The findings suggest that the glucose tolerance test helps identify patients with impaired glucose tolerance who have a heightened risk of cognitive decline. This is important for targeting interventions.

If you care about Alzheimer’s disease, please read studies about the key to preventing Alzheimer’s and findings of this common asthma drug may help treat Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information about Alzheimer’s and your health, please see recent studies about these 10 things linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease and results showing that right under your nose: An easier way to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.

The study is published in Diabetes Care. One author of the study is Sini Toppala.

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