Middle-aged people with diabetes who experience regular peaks in their blood sugar levels are putting themselves at a greater risk of dementia, a study has found.
Researchers from the USA also found that rises in glucose levels can lead to an increased chance of cognitive decline following a study of almost 13,000 people.
They say that the findings of the research published in Diabetes Care, the journal of the American Diabetes Associatio, could be used to help steer people with diabetes away from getting dementia and cognitive impairment.
The research team explored the link between blood sugar levels in middle-aged people and both dementia and cognitive decline.
They used 1,5-anhydroglucitol (1,5-AG) which is a short-term marker of glycemic control and categorised peaks as below a measurement of 10 µg/mL, with every decrease of five µg/mL resulting in a greater dementia risk in those with diabetes.
People who experienced peaks in blood sugar levels had an average HbA1c of 53 mmol/mol (7%) or over and had higher chances of cognitive decline.
A total of 1,105 people developed dementia over a median average period of 21 years. There were also people without diabetes who were studied, but the scientists could not find any association between blood glucose levels and dementia or cognitive decline in this group.
The study was led by Andreea Rawlings, from the Baltimore-based John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Previously higher HbA1c levels have been associated with the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment, but no other research has properly explored the role of glucose variability in this association.
The researchers concluded: “Among participants with diabetes, glucose peaks are a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia. Targeting glucose peaks, in addition to average glycemia, may be an important avenue for prevention.”

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