Patients with untreated diabetes are 1.6 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than people who do not have diabetes, according to the findings of a study by the University of Southern California (USC) released on Monday. .
The research, which analyzed the information of some 1,300 people over 55 years, highlights the importance of medication for patients with type 2 diabetes in order to keep the risk of Alzheimer's or dementia, according to the USC Dornsife Center. .
"Among people with diabetes, the difference in their indicators of development of the signs of dementia and Alzheimer's is clearly related in some way to whether or not they are taking medications for the disease," said psychologist Daniel Nation, one of the authors of the study. study.
The research work compared the conditions of people with diabetes, both treated and untreated, as well as people with prediabetes and normal blood sugar levels.
"Our results emphasize the importance of combating diabetes and other metabolic diseases in adults as early as possible," said Nation, because if left untreated there will be a direct impact on the risk of showing symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer's.
Nation, together with Elissa McIntosh, both from the USC's Dornsife Center, studied for this project data on 1,289 people over 55 years of age obtained through the Neuroimaging Alzheimer's Disease Initiative.
The information studied included data on diabetes and vascular diseases, brain scans and a range of general health indicators, including performance on memory tests.
Of a selected group of 901 patients, 54 had type 2 diabetes and had not been treated, while 67 had this type of diabetes and received treatment. Also, 530 patients had a normal level of blood sugar and 250 were in the prediabetes stage.
The study compared brain images and cerebrospinal fluid among the different categories of diabetic patients to analyze the so-called "tau pathology" and the progression of protuberances in brain tissue, two clear features of Alzheimer's disease.
These symptoms of dementia appeared mostly in those patients who, having diabetes, had not been treated for their disease.
"It is possible that medicines for the treatment of diabetes make a difference in the progression of brain degeneration," Nation said.
However, the study could not establish "exactly how these drugs reduce or prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease", something that the authors considered important to continue investigating.