A new study – published in the journal Neurology – found that people suffering from Type 2 diabetes are more prone to memory loss and their ability to make good decisions becomes rusty with age.
The negative changes from Type 2 diabetes become apparent within just two years after the disease as it disturbs the regulation of blood flow in the brain. The affects of this disturbance can lower scores on tests of cognition skills and ability to perform daily activities.
The condition – formerly called noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes – is a metabolic disorder characterized by hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) in the context of insulin resistance where cells are unable to take up glucose from the blood.
Normal blood flow regulation allows the brain to redistribute blood to areas of the brain that have increased activity while performing certain tasks.
“Diabetics have impaired blood flow regulation. Our results suggest that diabetes and high blood sugar impose a chronic negative effect on cognitive and decision-making skills,” said study author Vera Novak from Harvard Medical School in Boston.
The research involved 40 people with an average age of 66. Of those, 19 had Type 2 diabetes and 21 did not have diabetes.
The participants were tested at the beginning of the study and again two years later.
After two years, the people with diabetes decreased ability to regulate blood flow in the brain. They also had lower scores on several tests of memory and thinking skills.
“Higher levels of inflammation were also associated with greater decreases in blood flow regulation, even if people had good control of their diabetes and blood pressure,” Novak said.
“Early detection and monitoring of blood flow regulation may be an important predictor of accelerated changes in cognitive and decision-making skills,” she added.