As people age, they typically experience cognitive decline, but for those with type 2 diabetes, this process can be accelerated significantly. A new study has found that those with the progressive form of the disease can experience an acceleration of brain aging by 26% compared to those without diabetes.
This is a major concern, as cognitive decline can reduce the quality of life and even dementia. Researchers are now urging those with type 2 diabetes to do everything they can to control their blood sugar levels to protect their brains.
For the study, researchers analyzed the relationship between typical brain aging and what’s seen in type 2 diabetes patients. Information from the UK Biobank was utilized and included data from 20,000 people aged 50 to 80 years old. Brain scans were used to determine which brain and cognitive changes were specific to diabetes rather than just aging.
They found that those with type 2 diabetes follow a similar pattern of neurodegeneration in aging as those without the disease but with faster progress. It was also noted that even typical brain aging could be affected by changes in the brain’s glucose regulation by insulin.
These results suggest that by the time type 2 diabetes is formally diagnosed, there may already be significant structural damage to the brain. This is why it is vital for older people with blood glucose issues to have clinical assessments to watch for cognitive impairment routinely.
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