Diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are two separate diseases, but there is a strong correlation between lower level of cognitive function and blood sugar levels. Numerous studies have shown diabetes as a possible reason behind cognitive impairment and the resulting dementia or AD in the elderly. They suggested that people suffering from type 2 diabetes are more prone to be afflicted with dementia or other associated disorders such as AD.
A recent research by the New York University revealed the pathway between diabetes and AD, a subject on which many scientists had worked before, but could not succeed. The study titled, “Unraveling Alzheimer’s: Making Sense of the Relationship between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease,” aimed to streamline the earlier incongruent findings that could not establish an association between the two chronic ailments. They found out that treatment of type 2 diabetes can be effective for AD as well.
Need to understand that hyperinsulinemia can reduce AD
In the study, published online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in April 2016, Melissa Schilling, a strategy and innovation expert at the NYU Stern School of Business, thoroughly reviewed and compared earlier researches that dealt with diabetes and AD and molecular chemistry, centering her attention on diverse and contrasting observations.
While studying AD, many previous studies did not focus on patients’ diabetes condition and made no significant effort to understand the correlation between the two. But the fact is that the enzymes needed for the breakdown of insulin also act upon amyloid-beta, thus, breaking it down, in return.
The protein amyloid-beta causes tangles and plaques in the brains of people suffering from AD. In those who suffer from hyperinsulinemia, a condition indicating excess levels of insulin in the blood relative to glucose levels, the enzymes are more occupied in breaking down insulin, which results in the accumulation of amyloid-beta.
Stressing on the observations made during the study, Schilling said, “If we can raise awareness and get more people tested and treated for hyperinsulinemia, we could significantly reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other diabetes-related health problems. Everyone should be tested, early and often, preferably with the A1C test that doesn’t require fasting. Dementia patients should especially be tested – some studies have shown that treating the underlying hyperinsulinemia can slow or even reverse Alzheimer’s.”
Since diabetes goes undetected and undiagnosed in many patients in America, the observations made during the study emphasize the need for early screening of diabetes in order to reduce effects of both diabetes and AD. The study could go a long way in finding effective treatment strategies aimed at tackling the duality of diabetes and AD.
As per a report by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year. A report by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) says that approximately 5.1 million Americans are afflicted with AD, the prevalence which is constantly rising in proportion to the percentage of America’s aging population.
A 2013 study by researchers from the Albany University in New York had indicated that Alzheimer’s may be regarded as late-stage type 2 diabetes. Another related study titled “Type 2 diabetes mellitus and biomarkers of neurodegeneration,” published online in the journal Neurology in September 2015, suggested that type 2 diabetes mellitus caused degeneration of the nervous system, thus, elevating the risk of Alzheimer’s in later stages.
Recovery is possible
Though complete recovery from dementia or Alzheimer’s is a daunting task, the diabetics diagnosed with AD have a greater chance of recovery if innovative treatment strategies are used.
If a loved one is suffering from dementia or a mood disorder, the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline can provide the necessary information about various mental health services available in your vicinity. You may call at our helpline number (855) 653-8178 or chat online for further expert advice on various mental health facilities.