Alzheimer’s could be linked to high blood sugar level, study says
People with high blood sugar levels could be at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease according to a new study by researchers at the University of Arizona.
Researchers noted that the link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s has been studied, but wanted to determine if elevated blood sugar levels in non-diabetic people might also be a factor in developing the disease.
“What was not known when we began this work is whether that risk was only at levels of blood sugar that qualify for diagnoses of diabetes, or in the borderline or pre-diabetic range, or would we also see a relationship across the so-called normal range of blood glucose?” said Alfred Kaszniak, co-author on the study in a news release.
Scientists evaluated data on 124 non-diabetic adults ranging in age from 47 to 68 with normal brain function but with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. Three dimensional images of metabolic brain activity were taken and analyzed.
Alzheimer’s patients are known to have reduced metabolic activity in certain regions of the brain, researchers said. The images taken of the study participants who had high blood sugar levels showed similar reduced metabolic activity in the same regions as Alzheimer’s patients.
Nearly 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Onset usually begins after age 60 and increases with age. About 5 percent of men and women ages 65 to 74 have Alzheimer’s disease.
The disease is the most common form of dementia, the CDC says, and affects the parts of the brain that handle thought, memory and language. The causes are still being investigated.
Study leaders said they hope the results will help physicians identify and treat Alzheimer’s patients earlier.
“A lot of valuable research is focused on treatment and slowing decline in Alzheimer’s patients,” he said. “I’m interested in complementing this work with interventions that can be implemented earlier on, perhaps at middle age.”
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