These three health factors stood out from more than a dozen suspected to shape how Type 2 diabetes is frequently shadowed by cognitive impairment, including dementia. An analysis in September's Neuropsychology stresses that although these factors might not actually cause cognitive problems, their presence can warn doctors that such problems may exist or soon develop.
"Awareness of the link between diabetes and cognition could help people realize how important it is to manage this disease--and to motivate them to do so," said co-author Roger Dixon, PhD, of the University of Alberta.
Type 2 diabetes has been found by other researchers to nearly double the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, said Dixon, who studies how health affects cognition in aging. As diabetes becomes more common, this heightened risk could dramatically hike the number of older people with dementia – a double whammy of serious chronic disease. Among people older than 60, the U.S. prevalence of Type 2 diabetes is more than 23 percent, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive & Kidney Diseases. The Canadian prevalence is nearly 19 percent, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
An analysis of older Canadians living in British Columbia -- 41 with Type 2 diabetes (ages 55-81) and 458 matched healthy controls (ages 53-90) -- found that systolic blood pressure (the top number, or maximum pressure on artery walls during a single heartbeat), a low combination score for gait and balance, and a patient's own reports of poor health all played a statistically significant role in the relationship between diabetes and cognitive impairment relationship.
In other words, higher but still normal blood pressure, slower gait and shakier balance, and/or reporting one's self to be in bad health regardless of actual problems boosted the likelihood that someone with Type 2 diabetes had impaired cognition. The relationships were linear: For example, the worse the balance, the higher the likelihood of cognitive problems, as measured by mental speed (reaction time, switching time and perceptual speed), mental control and flexibility (executive functioning), and recall of recent learning (episodic memory).
The results highlight factors that may work indirectly, gradually and cumulatively to make older diabetics more likely to develop dementia. Researchers tested 13 different variables in all, in the areas of general fitness, emotional health, subjective and functional health, and lifestyle activities.
Because diabetes and hypertension often go together, Dixon said he was not surprised that high systolic blood pressure accounted for one-third to one-half of significantly worse scores on four tests. That finding, said the authors, suggests that diabetes and cognition may be connected via diabetics' vascular problems. For example, diabetes and hypertension may both play a role in a larger metabolic syndrome that includes high blood sugar and insulin resistance.
However, the other two factors raised new questions. Combined gait and balance had the greatest influence, accounting for between 32 percent and 62 percent of performance on seven cognitive tests. Diabetes might affect the specific nerves that control gait and balance, the authors wrote, or more broadly affect the overlapping brain areas that support both gait-balance and cognition.
Like blood pressure, what people said about their health accounted for about one-third to one-half of performance on five different cognitive tests. Negativity about one's health could reflect related factors such as stress or depression, which did not, in this study, directly mediate between diabetes and cognition. Self-reported health is "an important indicator of ways in which a cluster of health-related beliefs and behaviors can modulate the effect of this disease on cognitive adaptation," Dixon said.
"It's important to pay attention to the health beliefs of older adults, not because they are necessarily accurate or valid indicators of specific health status, but because they might track overall health," Dixon said.
Type 2 diabetes in adults accounts for 90 percent to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive & Kidney Diseases.
Article: "Testing Covariates of Type 2 Diabetes-Cognition Associations in Older Adults: Moderating or Mediating Effects?" G. Peggy McFall, MSc, and Bonnie P. Geall, BSc, University of Alberta; Ashley L. Fischer, BSc, Simon Fraser University; Sanda Dolcos, PhD, and Roger A. Dixon, PhD, University of Alberta; Neuropsychology, Vol. 24, No. 5.
(Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office and at http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/neu-24-5-547.pdf)
Contact: Dr. Roger Dixon at email@example.com or (780) 492-5850.
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 152,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.
Public Affairs Office | EurekAlert!
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine
25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy