Kristine Yaffe, MD, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues prospectively assessed the correlation between hypoglycemia and dementia in a biracial cohort including 783 older adults with diabetes mellitus (mean age, 74.0 years).
During a 12-year follow-up period, the researchers found that 7.8 percent of participants experienced a hypoglycemic event and 18.9 percent developed dementia. The risk of dementia was increased significantly for those who experienced versus those who did not experience a hypoglycemic event (34.4 versus 17.6 percent; multivariate-adjusted hazard ratio, 2.1). Compared with participants who did not develop dementia, those who developed dementia had a significantly greater risk of having a subsequent hypoglycemic event (14.2 versus 6.3 percent; multivariate-adjusted hazard ratio, 3.1). Similar results were seen after further adjustment for stroke, hypertension, myocardial infarction, and cognitive change scores.
"In summary, our results provide evidence for a bidirectional association between severe hypoglycemia and dementia," the authors write. "Hypoglycemia may impair cognitive health, and reduced cognitive function may increase the risk for a hypoglycemic event that could further compromise cognition, resulting in a detrimental cycle."
One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.