The first study of dementia risk, including Alzheimer’s disease, in older adults with Type 1 diabetes was reported July 20 at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2015 in Washington, D.C.
People in the study with Type 1 diabetes were 93% more likely to get dementia, and 73% more after adjustment for heart health risk factors, compared with people without diabetes, according to a news release.
Two other studies presented at the conference suggest an association between school performance in 9- and 10-year-old children and late life dementia, according to the release. Other research reports identified loneliness, low physical activity and high TV viewing as risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia.
“Evidence is growing that there are lifestyle habits that you can adopt to maintain or potentially improve your health — including your brain health — as you age,” Maria Carrillo, PhD, Alzheimer’s Association chief information officer, said in the release. “Many of the habits are familiar. Often, the same healthful practices that are good for your overall health are also good for your brain.”
Controlling heart health numbers, getting formal education, being physically and socially active can help keep the brain and body healthy and potentially reduce the risk of cognitive decline, Carrillo said. The complete list of lifestyle habits that can reduce cognitive decline can be found at alz.org.
First study of Type 1 diabetes and risk of dementia in late life
Studies have shown Type 2 diabetes is associated with a greater risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease; however, little is known about how Type 1 diabetes affects cognitive aging and dementia risk, according to the release. At the conference, Rachel Whitmer, PhD, an investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research, Oakland Calif., and colleagues reported results from first study of dementia in elderly adults with Type 1 diabetes.
“Elderly people with Type 1 diabetes are a population that is unique from elderly people with Type 2 diabetes,” Whitmer said. “They have a much younger age of diabetes onset, continuous insulin treatment, more frequent severe hypoglycemic episodes, but less vascular risk factors.”
The researchers followed the health histories of 490,344 people, ages 60 years and older, with no prior dementia. All of the people in the study are in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health system, which allowed researchers to track them over 12 years for new dementia diagnoses. Of those studied, 334 individuals had Type 1 diabetes. Analyses compared the Type 1 diabetes group with two control groups: those with Type 2 diabetes and those without diabetes. The researchers took into account differences in gender, race, stroke, peripheral arterial disease and hypertension.
Results presented at the conference showed 16% of those with Type 1 diabetes in the study were diagnosed with dementia during the follow-up period while 12% of those without Type 1 diabetes developed dementia. These results show those with Type 1 diabetes are 83% more likely to get dementia (61% more likely after adjustment for stroke, peripheral arterial disease and hypertension), according to the release. The magnitude of Type 1 diabetes on dementia risk was larger when people with Type 2 diabetes were excluded from the comparison group (93% more likely; 73% after adjustment).
“Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are rapidly increasing worldwide, and people with Type 1 are living longer than ever before,” Whitmer said. “Since management of Type 1 diabetes requires vigilance and constant self-care, cognitive impairment poses a particular threat to this vulnerable population. More research is needed to identify risk and protective factors for Alzheimer’s and other dementias in this group that is newly entering the aging population.”