Type 2 diabetes places women at risk of developing vascular dementia, a recent study featured on December 17 in the journal Diabetes Care has revealed.
Research was led by Rachel R. Huxley, director of the School of Public Health at Curtin University, in Perth, Australia.
By conducting an extensive analysis involving 14 prior studies, surveying over 2 million subjects, researchers determined that people suffering from type 2 diabetes had a 60% higher likelihood of later being diagnosed with dementia also.
The risks were especially high when it came to vascular cognitive impairment, a type of dementia which appears when not enough blood flow reaches the brain, usually as a result of small strokes which obstruct blood vessels supplying nutrients and oxygen.
The condition is actually the second most frequently encountered form of dementia, surpassed solely by Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for approximately 60 to 80% of all such ailments.
While Alzheimer’s disease is non-vascular, causing cognitive impairment as nerve cells are damaged and eventually wither away, this disorder appears when cerebral oxygenation is insufficient.
Given the fact that its signs are often imperceptible in the early stages, vascular dementia, which affects between 20 and 30% of the patients suffering from progressive brain degeneration, is often inadequately diagnosed and therefore seldom kept in check with effective medication.
Usually following a more significant stroke, symptoms become more conspicuous, and tend to consist in: difficulty communicating and processing what others have said, confusion, vision impairment and trouble making sense of one’s surroundings.
As study authors revealed, female diabetics were more than twice as susceptible to also develop vascular dementia in comparison with other women who didn’t have this metabolic disorder.
Male patients affected by type 2 diabetes also had an elevated probability of being diagnosed with such cognitive problems.
However, the risks weren’t as statistically significant as the ones encountered among women, probably because men are more frequently administered medicine against hypertension, thus regulating their blood circulation more effectively.
Based on these findings, researchers now believe that vascular dementia should also be taken into account as a condition possibly triggered or at least occurring in conjunction with type 2 diabetes.
Prior academic papers had shown that metabolic disorders heighten the likelihood of suffering from cardiovascular diseases (heart issues, stroke etc.), but it appears that even brain function can be severely disrupted by insulin regulation problems.
Now, study authors are planning to carry out a follow-up study, in order to determine if this is indeed a cause and effect relationship, or if both conditions actually appear due to another factor, such as obesity.
Further research will allow scientists to gain further understanding of the mechanisms that cause excessive blood sugar to have a detrimental effect on cerebral circulation.
It will also assist them in explaining why women with diabetes face a higher probability of suffering from vascular dementia, in comparison with their male counterparts.
Image Source: Flickr