Diabetes, high BP in middle age up dementia risks

Last Updated: Friday, March 21, 2014 - 18:58

Zee Media Bureau

New York: Diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure in middle age can significantly increase the risk of brain damage which could lead to problems like dememtia and memory loss later in life.

Ages 40 to 64 was dubbed as middle and 65 and older as old age according to researchers. Thinking and memory skills of 1,437 people with an average age of 80 were evaluated for the purpose of this study.

The participants had either no thinking or memory problems or mild memory and thinking problems called mild cognitive impairment.

They then had brain scans to look for markers of brain damage that can be a precursor to dementia. Participants' medical records were then reviewed to determine whether they had been diagnosed with diabetes or high blood pressure in middle age or later.

The researchers found that compared to people who did not have diabetes, people who developed diabetes in middle age had total brain volume an average of 2.9 percent smaller.

In the hippocampus area of the brain, which is involved in memory forming, the volume was four percent smaller, the research showed.

They were also twice as likely to have thinking and memory problems, said the study.

Compared to people who did not have high blood pressure, people who developed high blood pressure in middle age were twice as likely to have areas of brain damage.

"People who developed diabetes even in old age were also more likely to have areas of brain damage. Conversely, there were not many effects from high blood pressure that developed in old age," said Rosebud O Roberts of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

“Potentially, if we can prevent or control diabetes and high blood pressure in middle age, we can prevent or delay the brain damage that occurs decades later and leads to memory and thinking problems and dementia," concluded Roberts.

With Agency Inputs

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First Published: Friday, March 21, 2014 - 18:27

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