High blood sugar raises risk of memory decline

High blood sugar levels can increase the risk of memory problems even in adults without diabetes, a study suggests.

Higher HbA1c and fasting glucose levels were linked to poorer memory
Higher HbA1c and fasting glucose levels were linked to poorer memory

Healthy adults with chronically high HbA1c levels performed worse in cognitive tests for memory and learning ability, researchers found. Scans showed the poor performance was likely due to brain damage caused by the high sugar levels.

Low-calorie diets and exercise could help prevent people with normal and high levels of blood glucose from developing memory problems in later life, researchers said.

Studies have shown that patients with type 2 diabetes have a greater chance of developing poorer mental function and dementia in later life. But the risks to healthy, non-diabetic adults were unclear.

Researchers in Germany gave learning and memory tests to 141 healthy middle-aged adults without diabetes, and measured levels of HbA1c, fasting glucose and insulin. The tests measured delayed recall, learning ability and memory consolidation.

The researchers also examined each participant's brain structure using imaging scans, including MRI.

They found that higher HbA1c and fasting glucose levels were linked to poorer memory performance and smaller volume of the hippocampus. In a test to recite a list of 15 words 30 minutes after hearing them, people with higher blood sugar levels recalled two fewer words for each 7mmol/L increase in HbA1c.

Further imaging revealed that the microstructure of the hippocampus was damaged following long and short-term spikes in levels of blood glucose.

Researchers suggested the damage may be caused by glucose-related increases in inflammation and blood coagulation, causing small strokes and loss of brain volume.

Study author Agnes Floel, of Charite University Medicine in Berlin, said: 'These results suggest that even for people within the normal range of blood sugar, lowering their blood sugar could be a promising strategy for preventing memory problems and cognitive decline as they age.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

First-dose COVID-19 vaccine supply for GP sites to stop completely for a fortnight

First-dose COVID-19 vaccine supply for GP sites to stop completely for a fortnight

Supplies of COVID-19 vaccine for first-dose vaccinations at GP-led vaccination sites...

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

More than 70% of COVID-19 jabs this month have been second doses

More than 70% of COVID-19 jabs this month have been second doses

More than seven in 10 COVID-19 jabs administered UK-wide since the start of April...

Accountant's theft of more than £60,000 from GP practices uncovered in pandemic

Accountant's theft of more than £60,000 from GP practices uncovered in pandemic

An accountant has been handed a suspended jail term after stealing more than £60,000...

GMC to contact thousands of GPs due to revalidate from August

GMC to contact thousands of GPs due to revalidate from August

The GMC is writing to thousands of doctors due to revalidate from August to set out...

NHS England spells out next steps as GPs told to cancel AZ jabs booked for under-30s

NHS England spells out next steps as GPs told to cancel AZ jabs booked for under-30s

GP-led vaccination sites should offer under-30s due to receive a first dose of AstraZeneca...