Aging usually brings along difficult biological changes that we have to deal with, such as memory loss and poor circulation. But also having type-2 diabetes can transform these two very simple things into something quite terrible.
According to a new study, however, suffering from type-2 diabetes is one of the factors leading to severe cognitive decline. Researchers discovered the risk of developing dementia is 75 higher in patients who have the condition than in those who don’t suffer from it.
Lead author Vera Novak, MD, PhD, from Harvard Medical School, explains that the association results from the fact that having poor circulation limits the way blood is redistributed to brain areas that have light up during certain tasks.
Suffering from type-2 diabetes comes with the unfortunate side-effect of reduced blood flow regulation. Novak’s team found evidence suggesting that diabetes in general and high blood sugar in particular have a severely negative effect on decision-making skills and cognitive health.
Novak added that when we perform any task – from logical thinking to moving one leg in front of the other – our brain needs to increase blood flow to the part of the brain responsible for that action.
But when diabetes comes into play, that vasodilation ability is greatly limited, meaning that your physical resources for any task are fewer than required.
Almost half of the 40 people aged 50 to 85 who participated in the study were dealing with type-2 diabetes. All the subjects in the group with the condition had constricted blood vessels in their brains.
In the study, Novak explains that it’s not enough to perform blood sugar control in order to get a hold on the cognitive decline that’s now linked to diabetes. She added that the medical and scientific community needs to come up with new medication that will improve cognition, blood vessel reactivity, and brain function in diabetics.
Novak hopes this study will represent only the beginning of the way to treatment, as the pharmaceutical market still lacks any medication for cognitive decline in diabetes. The reason for this is mostly because the brain is not among the organs at risk for this disease.
More research is needed in order to change this. But before treatment can be found, it is important to detect the accelerated changes in cognition early on and keep a strict monitoring of blood flow regulation.
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