Dementia Researchers have discovered that those with a high blood sugar level, even if they do not have diabetes, may have an increased risk of developing dementia compared with those who have a normal blood sugar level.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, analyzed 2,067 participants without dementia aged 65 and over, from a study called Adult Changes in Thought (ACT).

In order to examine the relationship between glucose levels and the risk of dementia, researchers from the University of Washington involved in a Group Health study analyzed average measurements of glycated hemoglobin levels and glucose levels over a period of 6.8 years.

The team compiled specific data from the participants using a Cox regression model – a predictive model that uses time-dependent factors. These included:

Diabetes status
Study cohort
Educational level
Level of exercise
Blood pressure
Status with respect to coronary/cerebrovascular diseases
Atrial fibrillation
Treatment for hypertension

Results of the study revealed that in the participants with diabetes, the risk of dementia was 40% higher for those with an average glucose level of 190 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), compared with participants who had an average glucose level of 160 mg/dl.

However, the results also showed that in the participants without diabetes, the risk of dementia was 18% higher for those with an average glucose level of 115 mg/dl versus those with an average of 100 mg/dl.

Dr. Paul Crane, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, says:

“The most interesting finding was that every incrementally higher glucose level was associated with a higher risk of dementia in people who did not have diabetes.

There was no threshold value for lower glucose values where risk leveled off.”

The researchers note the strength of this research lies in it being based on the ACT study, which is a long-term cohort study analyzing people throughout their lives.

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