Diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease – What's The Link?

Posted on July 23, 2014

Photo: flickr

Diabetes mellitus is an emerging global epidemic that affects millions of people worldwide. This systemic disease affects the blood sugar level causing far-reaching consequences for the human body.

Diabetes affects the blood vessels and nerves of the body and causes long-term complications. During the early stages of disease, the damage caused by the high blood sugar level is not very obvious but after several years of poorly controlled diabetes, every organ of the body starts to show the signs and symptoms of disease-related deterioration.

Diabetes can lead to dementia

Most of the complications of diabetes are well-known. They include coronary artery disease (damage to the heart), diabetic neuropathy (damage to the nerves resulting in pain or loss of sensation in the legs and hands, as well as formation of skin ulcers), diabetic retinopathy (damage to the eyes) and diabetic nephropathy (damage to the kidneys). Another serious complication of diabetes is stroke and this complication can present itself in the form of vascular dementia, a condition that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is affected. Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia, the first being Alzheimer's disease.

Studies have shown that people with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing vascular dementia. The reason seems straight forward: like any other blood vessel in the body, the cerebral blood vessels that nourish the brain are damaged by the excess of blood sugar. The damaged blood vessels fail to nourish the brain cells effectively thus leading to increased cell mortality and development of dementia symptoms. But what is the link between diabetes mellitus and Alzheimer's disease?

Can diabetes mellitus lead to the development of Alzheimer's disease?

Recent studies propose a common pathophysiology between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. The similarities in the pathophysiology have given way to the thought that Alzheimer's disease could be viewed as a new form of diabetes mellitus. The reasons for such an implication are not so complex and are as follows.

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Source material from Brain Blogger

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