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High Blood Sugar Associated With Dementia in Elderly Non-diabetics

Study doesn’t prove direct causal link, however (August 7)

Elderly people with high blood sugar — but not high enough to be diabetic — face a slightly greater risk of developing dementia, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The data do not prove, however, that high glucose levels directly cause dementia. But having an average glucose reading of 105 to 120 mg/dL was associated with a 10 to 20 percent increase in dementia in non-diabetics. If the reading was below 100, the risk was lower. A fasting blood glucose of 126 mg/dL and above is used to diagnose diabetes.

Researchers measured levels of glucose and glycated hemoglobin in 2,067 participants without dementia to examine the relationship between glucose levels and the risk of dementia.

During a median follow-up period of 6.8 years, dementia developed in 524 participants (74 with diabetes and 450 without). Among participants without diabetes, higher average glucose levels within the preceding 5 years were related to a significantly increased risk of dementia (P = 0.01); with a glucose level of 115 mg/dL compared with 100 mg/dL, the adjusted hazard ratio for dementia was 1.18. Among participants with diabetes, higher average glucose levels were also related to a significantly increased risk of dementia (P = 0.002); with a glucose level of 190 mg/dL compared with 160 mg/dL, the adjusted hazard ratio was 1.40.

Sources: Reuters; August 7, 2013; and NEJM; August 7, 2013.

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