Constant high blood sugar is a major risk for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Sometimes when the blood sugar levels suddenly increase, they can put the body into diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which can lead to death. But the dangers of this prediabetic phase are not just limited to these effects, according to a new study it can cause an early cognitive decline in older people.
The complete results are posted in the journal Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism.
For this study, the research team collected the data of 500,000 individuals from the BioBank UK, with an average age of 58 years. All of these people shared nearly 42% higher sugar levels than the normal, which subjected them to greater risks including early cognitive decline within four years. Nearly 54% of them were at risk of vascular dementia within the next eight years, despite the fact that early cognitive decline is relatively less prevalent in these populations.
These results were the same even when contributing factors such as age, BMI, heart conditions, smoking habits, and others were added.
Diabetic patients are usually more likely to suffer from secondary diseases. But those who are still in a prediabetic phase and aren’t identified as diabetic patients also carry the risk. One risk is to develop diabetes which is obvious but they may also develop cognitive diseases and heart diseases with age.
In the UK, there are nearly five to seven million individuals who are in their prediabetic phase right now. If these findings are true, nearly seven million people are subjected to dementia and heart diseases in the next eight years. Consider all prediabetic patients in the world and it will give an idea that the life of billions is at risk, without them realizing it.
The problem with prediabetics is that people don’t consider it as a disease or do anything to get over it unless they get diabetes. There is no treatment for diabetes but if the body is in a prediabetic phase, there are chances that the damage can be controlled.
This research confirms that prediabetic patients carry more or less the same risks as that diabetic patients. But this is only an observational study that doesn’t explain how moderately high blood sugar levels make brain health worse. But it doesn’t mean that this connection is doubtful. More research will explain how both these affect each other, but for now, it requires taking preventive measures to avoid vascular dementia and early cognitive decline.
Vascular dementia is a sub-type of dementia that shows up when the blood supply to the brain is impaired. Usually, people with diabetes are at three times higher risk of vascular dementia but those who have not reached a ‘diabetic stage’ yet were thought to have no such risk. Interestingly, Alzheimer’s is more common in people with stable blood sugar levels which makes this whole link even more complicated.
This is the first study that has investigated the effects of high blood sugar which is not enough to be called diabetes on the brain but how it makes this happen is still unclear.