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Depression and pre-diabetes could predict dementia risk

Depression and pre-diabetes could predict dementia risk

Publication date: Wednesday, 04 April 2018
Contributor(s): Jeremy Bray

A landmark longitudinal study suggests that people who are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and who also have depression, are nearly three times more likely to develop dementia in later life, compared to those with neither condition.

Scientists followed 3458 adults over the age of 50 from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing for up to 10 years. They split the participants into six groups based on the presence of diabetes, pre-diabetes and/or depression. The findings confirm that depression and diabetes were risk factors for dementia but also suggest that those with both depression and pre-diabetes were nearly three times more likely to develop the serious progressive neurological disorder.

Dr Kimberley Smith, lead author of the study, explained: “There is a lot of evidence that the co-occurrence of depression and diabetes is linked with the development of serious complications of diabetes such as dementia. Our work extends this by also showing that pre-diabetes and depression might also be linked with a greater risk of developing dementia.” She added, “While based on a relatively small number of people, these findings are further evidence of considering the importance of poor mental health in people with prediabetes and diabetes. These preliminary findings will be explored in our future work so we can determine why this association might exist.”

Pre-diabetes is a common term used for people who are at a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. It is when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Between 5-10 % of people with pre-diabetes go on to develop Type 2 diabetes each year.

Currently 4.6 million people in the UK have diabetes, 90 per cent of these have Type 2 diabetes and 12.3 million people are at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.



More research is now needed to understand why this potential connection between pre-diabetes, depression and dementia could exist, and what can be done to reduce the risk of dementia in as many people as possible. In the meantime, this study again highlights the importance of reducing the risk of diabetes and dementia through maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy balanced diet, limiting alcohol intake, avoiding smoking, keeping blood pressure in check and doing regular exercise.

Smith K, Kontari P, et al. Presented at the 2018 Diabetes UK Professional Conference (Abstract A29)

Topics covered:
Category: Evidence in Practice
Edition: Volume 3 Number 4 PCCJ Online 2018
Contributor(s): Jeremy Bray

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