People with type 1 diabetes who maintain good blood glucose control could reduce their risk of developing dementia in the long term, US researchers have concluded.
More than 3,400 people with type 1 diabetes aged 50 years or older were involved in the study, which was conducted by the University of California at San Francisco.
Those who had over half of their HbA1c readings between 42-63 mmol/mol (6-8%) during the study period had a 45% reduced risk of dementia compared with those with higher HbA1c readings.
Participants who had more than half their HbA1c levels higher than 64-74 mmol/mol (8-9%) had a 65% increased long-term dementia risk. This risk increased to 79% among those with more than half their HbA1c readings at 75 mmol/mol (9%).
The findings of the study were based on the health records of the participants over six and a half years who had been part of the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial, which established that good glycemic control reduces the chances of complications including stroke, heart disease, eye disease and vascular diseases.
Lead researcher Dr Mary Lacy said: “People with type 1 diabetes are living longer than ever before. This increase in life expectancy is accompanied by an increased risk of developing aging-related diseases such as dementia.
“Given the aging population of individuals with type 1 diabetes and the importance of cognitive function in type 1 diabetes self-care, understanding the role of glycaemic control on dementia risk is especially important.”
The average age of those who went on to develop dementia was 65, with those who developed the condition generally being older at the start of the study.
Dr Lacy added: “It was really gratifying to see that, generally speaking, the HbA1c levels that were associated with lower risk of dementia are consistent with currently recommended… targets.”
Next, the researchers plan to study the reasons behind the blood glucose control and dementia risk.
The study was published in the journal Diabetes Care.

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