Type 2 Diabetes Is Associated with a Higher Risk of Developing Dementia Disease

Female home carer supporting old woman to stand up from the armchair at care homeResearch has long shown that type 2 diabetes is associated with a higher risk of developing dementia. However, research has been limited or contradictory on the risk of cognitive impairment, a preclinical term for the very early phase of dementia.

To help fill this gap, researchers at Karolinska Institute followed over 2,500 individuals over the age of 60 for 12 years. None of the participants had dementia when the study began, but over 700 of them had been diagnosed with cognitive impairment. The research group measured long-term levels of blood glucose and CRP, an inflammation marker. At the start of the study, 8.6% of the participants had type 2 diabetes, and one in three had prediabetes.


After 12 years, many participants showed a decline in cognitive faculties, and almost 30% had developed cognitive impairment. Of the participants who had started this study with cognitive impairment, 20% had developed dementia.

The researchers were able to analyze the part played by type 2 diabetes in the development of cognitive impairment. They found that the critical factor was how well-controlled diabetes was, not the presence of the disease itself.

Participants in the study with poorly controlled diabetes compared to people without diabetes were twice as likely to develop pre-clinical dementia and three times more likely to deteriorate from pre-clinical dementia to dementia disease.

Researchers also examined the risk of impaired cognitive health in type 2 diabetes and heart disease participants. Atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and coronary artery disease were focused on. It has previously been found that heart disease can be a complication in type 2 diabetes and indicate more severe diabetes disease.

The study found that participants who had type 2 diabetes and concurrent heart disease had twice the risk of developing pre-clinical dementia or dementia than those who did not have heart disease or type 2 diabetes. However, having either of the two conditions on their own was not associated with a higher risk.

“We didn’t find that type 2 diabetes per se entails a higher risk of developing cognitive impairment or of cognitive impairment worsening to full dementia,” says Abigail Dove, from the Karolinska Institute.


“What matters is how well-controlled the diabetes is. Since there is currently no cure for dementia, prevention is vital, and here we have evidence that this can be done through the careful control of diabetes. Our results can also possibly explain why earlier studies have produced conflicting results, since few of them factor in how well-controlled the participants’ diabetes was.”


For patients with type 2 diabetes, it’s common for chronic inflammation in the body, and the same applies to dementia and many cardiovascular diseases. For this study, the researchers observed through the inflammation marker CRP that people with type 2 diabetes and elevated CRP levels had a three times higher risk of going from pre-clinical dementia to dementia disease.

Researchers believe that inflammation plays an important role in the progression of dementia. However, they underline that more studies are needed to better understand this role and the relationship it plays.

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.