Diabetes Care paper describes results seen from memory, speed, and multitasking tests.

Higher average sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes are linked to lower cognitive functioning, according to a group of researchers. The results come from the ongoing Memory in Diabetes study.

The scientists discovered that higher levels of hemoglobin A1C levels—a measure of average blood glucose levels over a two to three month period—are significantly associated with inferior performance on three cognitive tasks that require memory, speed, and the ability to manage multiple tasks at the same time. A higher A1C level is also associated with a lower score on a test of global cognitive function.

Previous studies have shown that people with diabetes are 1.5 times more likely to experience cognitive decline and dementia than people without diabetes. What is not yet know is whether higher levels of blood sugar increase the risk for cognitive impairment or whether impairment decreases the ability to control blood sugar levels.

The group intends to answer that question during the ongoing study, in which patients are followed over time and are tested three times during the trial. A goal of the follow-up is to test the hypothesis that lowering A1C could result in improved cognitive function.

This research appears online today in Diabetes Care.


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