Diabetes triples dementia risk for some older people

Older people with mild memory loss are three times more likely to develop dementia if they also have diabetes, a group of Alzheimer’s Research Trust scientists at King’s College London have shown.

Posted on 7th January 2010

The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, investigated the connection between mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in older people and dementia. Previous studies show an association between diabetes and MCI development.

The scientists followed 61 people aged 65 or over who had MCI for four years. 16 (26%) of the participants had been diagnosed with diabetes. After four years, 19 (31%) developed dementia, two (3%) reverted to normal cognitive levels, and 40 (59%) remained stable. Of those who progressed to dementia, seven had diabetes.

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said:
“This study shows that older people with both mild cognitive impairment and diabetes are at an increased risk of developing dementia. This finding could aid efforts to improve early dementia diagnosis. In the UK, two-thirds of all dementia patients remain undiagnosed, and much more research is needed if we are to improve hundreds of thousands of lives.

“700,000 people in the UK live with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, a number set to double within a generation.”

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