Developing prediabetes at a younger age linked to higher dementia risk

The risk of dementia rises dramatically in people who develop prediabetes at a younger age, according to a new study.

Developing prediabetes at a younger age linked to higher dementia risk


A new study found that people who develop prediabetes in their youth are at a greater risk of dementia later in life.

Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels exceed optimal, but are not high enough to diagnose a patient with diabetes. Prediabetes is a condition that affects millions of Americans under 60 years old. Many are unaware they have it.

In a press release, Elizabeth Selvin, professor of epidemiology and Jiaqi Hus, doctoral student, said that diabetes is linked to dementia. Both are at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore.

The study published in Diabetologia on Wednesday analyzed data collected from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. The study enrolled 45-64 year olds in four US counties, including Forsyth County (North Carolina), Jackson, Mississippi, the suburbs of Minneapolis, and Washington County (Maryland).

The study showed that people who had type 2 diabetes prior to age 60 were at three times greater risk of developing dementia in later life than those who didn't have it. The risk of dementia dropped slightly if prediabetes developed into type 2 diabetes from 60 to 69 years old, but not by much.

We all experience transient spikes of blood glucose. It goes up and then down', said Dr. Andrew Freeman of National Jewish Health, Denver, who is the director of cardiovascular preventive health and wellness. He was not involved in the study.

Freeman explained that if you use 'glucose-years' to measure how high your glucose is and how long it has been, you can begin to see the cumulative damage. The earlier you are exposed to the condition, the more damage is done.

The study concluded that the risk of dementia decreased to 23% if type two diabetes was not detected until the 70s. If a person develops type 2 diabetes during their 80s or 1990s, then the risk is not higher than for those without diabetes.

Selvin, in an email to CNN, said that there was a strong correlation between prediabetes and dementia. However, this association only existed among those who had diabetes. This finding suggests that stopping the progression of prediabetes into diabetes may help to prevent dementia as we age.

Alzheimer's disease specialist Dr. Richard Isaacson is a preventive neurologist at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases of Florida. He said that the results are not shocking.

Isaacson, a researcher who wasn't involved in the study but was contacted by email, said: 'I have been screaming about this for more than ten years.' If this study encourages people to take action after a diagnosis of 'borderline diabetic' or prediabetes, it will improve brain health.

What is prediabetes?

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of American adults has prediabetes. 80% don't know it. Nearly one-third of them are aged between 18 and 44, which is a young age to develop a condition that puts them at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other serious health issues.

The CDC reported that nearly one in five adolescents aged 12 to 18 years and one in four young adults aged 19 to 34 have prediabetes.

According to the CDC, approximately 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer's and other dementias. According to a report released by the Alzheimer's Association in 2019, the risk of developing the most common dementia in the elderly is 1 in 10.

In a meta-analysis published in 2013, type 2 diabetes was associated with an increased risk of dementia from any cause by 60%. People with dementia and type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk for early death.

According to research, while the exact link between diabetes and dementia may not be known, several possible pathways exist.

Diabetes increases the risk of stroke and heart disease, which damage the heart and blood vessel. According to the Alzheimer's Association, damaged blood vessels in brain can contribute to cognitive decline.

The association also stated that high blood sugar can cause inflammation, which may damage brain cells. Even those with type 2 diabetes who are in their early stages show signs of brain dysfunction.

The Alzheimer's Association said that research has shown type 2 diabetes increases beta-amyloid levels in the brain. This is a hallmark of Alzheimer's.

This is not the only study to show a link between diabetes and dementia. In a 2021 study conducted in the United Kingdom, it was found that diabetes developed more than ten years earlier increased the risk of developing dementia by 18%.

Pre-diabetes risk factors

Prediabetes, also known as silent diabetes, is a silent killer that develops and progresses without obvious symptoms. However, there are some risk factors.

According to the CDC, you have a higher risk of prediabetes if: You are overweight; you are over 44 years old; and, you exercise less than 3 times a weeks.

Some groups have a higher risk of diabetes, such as people who are Black or Hispanic, American Indian, Alaska Native or Pacific Islander, or Asian American. The National Diabetes Prevention program offers a screening test that will help you determine your risk.

The US Preventive Services Task Force suggests that all adults aged 35-70 who are medically obese or overweight be tested for diabetes or prediabetes. Reduce weight, exercise, eat a healthy diet, and avoid processed and ultraprocessed food if blood sugar levels cause concern.