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High variation in HbA1c raises risk of depression in the elderly

A study has found that elderly people with type 2 diabetes face a higher risk of depression if their HbA1c results vary quite widely.
The research team included researchers from Tel-Aviv University, Israel and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA.
The study included 837 participants drawn from the Israel Diabetes and Cognitive Decline (IDCD) study. The data from the trial goes as far back as 1998 and 18 HbA1c measurements on average per person. The average age of participant was 73 years-old and all participants had type 2 diabetes.
The researchers define depression using the Geriatric Depression Scale which looks at 15 different factors. Glycemic variation was reviewed by looking at how widely people’s HbA1c results were changing. For this they used a mathematical formula known as the standard deviation.
10 per cent of the people in the study had a GDS score of 6 or more and were therefore judged to have depression.
The results showed that people in the study with the highest amount of variation in HbA1c levels were found to be more at risk of suffering depression.
For readers interested in the precise results, the data showed that each standard deviation increase of 11 mmol/mol (1%) was linked with a 31 per cent higher risk of depression.
The results do not mean that varying HbA1c levels necessarily causes depression but may play a part. Another factor to consider is that depression itself may contribute to variation in blood glucose control and therefore wider swings in HbA1c.
The results suggest that doctors and patients should be on the lookout for signs of depression in older patients if HbA1c levels show a relatively high level of variability.
If you think you may be suffering from depression, your doctor can help to find ways of treating depression.
The study is published online of the Diabetes Care journal.

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