Scientists from University College London found that prediabetes may be linked to worse brain health and conditions like cognitive decline and vascular dementia.
The research is published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism and was conducted by Dr. Victoria Garfield et al.
People with prediabetes have blood sugar levels that are higher than usual, but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It means they are more at risk of developing diabetes.
In the study, the team analyzed data from the UK Biobank of 500,000 people aged 58 years on average.
They found that people with higher than normal blood sugar levels were 42% more likely to experience cognitive decline over an average of four years, and were 54% more likely to develop vascular dementia over an average of eight years.
Prediabetes was linked to a higher likelihood of vascular dementia, a common form of dementia caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, but not Alzheimer’s disease.
People with diabetes, meanwhile, were three times more likely to develop vascular dementia than people whose blood sugar levels were classified as normal, and more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
The research shows a possible link between higher blood sugar levels—a state often described as ‘prediabetes’ – and higher risks of cognitive decline and vascular dementia.
The researchers say that some of these differences could be explained by elevated blood pressure, as those participants taking antihypertensive medication were likely to have more WMHs and smaller hippocampal volume.
Rather than the treatment having an adverse effect on the brain, the researchers said the use of such medication might be an indicator of earlier untreated high blood pressure.
People with prediabetes can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by eating a healthy, balanced diet, being more active, and staying at a healthy weight.
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