Alzheimer's May Be Tied To High Blood Sugar

Bloomberg News
Monday, July 17, 2006

People with elevated blood sugar levels may have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, researchers reported yesterday at an international conference.

Scientists already have linked Type 2 diabetes with Alzheimer's, which afflicts 4.5 million Americans.

But researchers from Stockholm's Karolinska Institute said the link to Alzheimer's disease may take hold earlier, in people who have higher-than-normal blood sugar levels but not in the diabetic range -- a condition known as pre-diabetes.

Pre-diabetes affects 41 million Americans between the ages of 40 and 74, according to the American Diabetes Association, while diabetes has been diagnosed in 14.6 million Americans.

The Karolinska researchers presented their nine-year study of more than 1,100 people on the opening day of the 10th International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders in Madrid.

Alzheimer's disease robs the brain of its memory and processing skills. The number of victims is expected to grow fourfold by the middle of the century as the population ages and baby boomers reach retirement, according to the Chicago-based Alzheimer's Association.

Studies still to come at the Madrid meeting, attended by about 5,000 people, will explore a connection between heart disease and Alzheimer's disease, as well as the effectiveness of some current medicines.

Scientists will also report on new kinds of medical imaging tests that can spot defects in the brain and track the illness as it advances. The techniques also can detect the brain's reaction to treatment.

Alzheimer's disease still can only be diagnosed with certainty with an autopsy.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company