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Higher Blood Sugar Could Impair Thinking

People with raised glucose scored worse on cognition tests, study found

MONDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- In people with type 2 diabetes, higher average blood glucose (sugar) levels may be linked to lower brain function, according to a new study.

Researchers found that patients with higher levels of hemoglobin A1C (a measure of average blood glucose levels over 2 to 3 months) had significantly worse results while doing cognitive tasks that tested memory, speed and the ability to manage multiple tasks at the same time. Higher A1C levels were also associated with lower scores on a test of global cognitive function.

The findings from the Memory in Diabetes (MIND) study were published online Monday in the journal Diabetes Care. MIND is a sub-study of the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) trial.

"Even a mild impairment in cognitive function is of concern for people with type 2 diabetes," lead researcher Dr. Tali Cukierman-Yaffe, of Tel-Aviv University in Israel, said in an American Diabetes Association news release.

However, the researchers noted it's not yet clear whether higher blood sugar levels increase the risk for cognitive impairment or whether cognitive impairment decreases the body's ability to control blood sugar levels. They hope the question will be answered in the ongoing ACCORD-MIND study, which will test the theory that lowering A1C levels could improve cognitive function.

Previous research found that people with diabetes are 1.5 times more likely to suffer cognitive decline and dementia than people without diabetes.

More information

The U.S. National Diabetes Education Program has more about diabetes control.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Diabetes Association, news release, Jan. 26, 2009

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