Older people with memory loss are three times
more likely to develop dementia if they also have diabetes, a
It is already known that diabetes mellitus is
associated with the development of mild cognitive impairment, or
memory loss. But it is not clear if diabetes also increases the
risk of conversion from mild cognitive impairment to dementia.
Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry,
King’s College London, set out to determine if having diabetes also
increases the risk of a person progressing from mild cognitive
impairment to dementia. Their findings are published in the January
issue of the British Journal of
The researchers followed 61 people aged over 65 for a period of
four years. All the participants had mild cognitive impairment, and
16 (16%) also had a diagnosis of diabetes.
At the end of the four year period, 19 (31%)
of the participants had progressed to dementia. Two (3%) of the
participants reverted to normal cognitive levels, and 40 (59%)
remained stable. Of those who progressed to dementia, 7 had
Analysis showed that only diabetes was
associated with progression to dementia, after adjusting for other
risk factors such as gender, age, and other health conditions.
The researchers said: “Our study demonstrates
that people with mild cognitive impairment and diabetes are at
increased risk of developing dementia.
“With an expected increase in prevalence of
diabetes of people of all ages, including older adults, the risk of
developing dementia may increase. Identification of those at
particular risk of progression to dementia might help to target
early treatment. There is also a need for studies of improved
diabetes control and related approaches as possible strategies for
The study was funded by the Alzheimer’s
Research Trust, UK Medical Research Council and National Institute
for Health Research specialist Biomedical Research Centre for
Mental Health at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and
King’s College London.
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Velayudhan L, Poppe M, Archer N, Proitsi P, Brown RG and Lovestone S (2009) Risk of developing dementia in people with diabetes and mild cognitive impairment, British Journal of Psychiatry, 196:36-40