Dementia Risk Increased for Patients with Diabetes

Researchers in China retrospectively studied health records of 430,000 people age 50 years or older who had recently been diagnosed with diabetes to investigate the link between dementia risk and the severity and progression of diabetes.

Diabetes complications are linked to the rising risk of dementia, according to a report published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Researchers from China retrospectively studied 430,000 people aged 50 years or greater dating back to 1999 through 2011 recruited from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database in order to investigate the link between dementia risk and the severity and progression of diabetes. The patients had been recently diagnosed with diabetes at their inclusion of the study. The researchers used data from the patients to determine their number of hospital admissions or if they had at least three outpatient medical visits for dementia after they were diagnosed with diabetes.

Additionally, the researchers used an adapted version of the Diabetes Complications Severity Index to track and predict deaths and hospitalizations for diabetes patients.

The researchers found that 6.2 percent of the total group, or more than 26,000 patients, had been diagnosed with dementia by the end of the study. The researchers extrapolated that the risk for developing dementia was higher in patients with a higher Diabetes Complications Severity Index, compared to patients with a lower score using the tool.

“Our research is the first nationwide study to examine how the severity and progression of diabetes is related to dementia diagnosis rates in an older population,” one of the study’s authors, Wei Che Chiu, MD, PhD, explained in a press release. “We found that as diabetes progresses and an individual experiences more complications from the disease, the risk of dementia rises as well.”

The statement added that more than 29 million Americans are living with diabetes. The researchers estimated that about 21 percent of those diabetes patients have nerve damage, 27 percent have diabetic kidney disease, and between 29 and 33 percent have diabetic eye disease that has the potential to cloud vision.

“The study demonstrates why it is so crucial for people with diabetes to work closely with health care providers on controlling their blood sugar,” Chiu concluded. “Managing the disease can help prevent the onset of dementia later in life.”