Vicious Cycle of Hypoglycemia and Dementia

Published Online: Monday, July 22, 2013
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Hypoglycemia may increase the risk of dementia in older patients with type 2 diabetes, according to the results of a study published online on June 10, 2013, in JAMA Internal Medicine. Likewise, dementia patients with type 2 diabetes are more likely to experience episodes of hypoglycemia.
 
The study included almost 800 elderly patients with type 2 diabetes who were participating in the prospective population-based Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study, which was launched in 1997. At the start of the study, all participants had a score of at least 80 on the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination.
 
The researchers followed participants for 12 years, determining dementia diagnoses from hospital records for dementia-related admissions and for prescribed dementia medications. Data on hypoglycemic events were also collected from hospital records.
 
Over the study period, 61 participants (7.8%) experienced a hypoglycemic event, and 148 (18.9%) developed dementia. Patients who experienced a hypoglycemic event had a 34.4% risk for developing dementia compared with 17.6% for those who did not have a hypoglycemic event. Researchers also observed that patients who developed dementia had a 14.2% risk of a subsequent hypoglycemic event, while those without dementia had just a 6.3% risk.


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