Advertisement

Very Low Blood Glucose Reduces Cognitive Ability in Older Adults With Type 1: Study

Text Size:
Woman putting together puzzle -- Very Low Blood Glucose Reduces Cognitive Ability in Older Adults With Type 1: Study
Advertisement

People with type 1 diabetes are living overall longer, healthier lives than in past decades, thanks to steady improvements in treating the condition. But achieving better blood glucose control can sometimes increase the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) — which is linked to a range of negative health outcomes, including greater difficulty with cognitive tasks in children. A recent study sought to find out whether harmful cognitive effects from hypoglycemia occur in older adults with type 1, as well — and the results show that it does.

To get cutting-edge diabetes news, strategies for blood glucose management, nutrition tips, healthy recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter!

For the study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, researchers looked at how self-reported episodes of severe hypoglycemia — those requiring hospitalization — were linked to a range of cognitive abilities. Among 718 older adults (average age of 67) with type 1, 32% reported having severe hypoglycemia in the last year, while 50% reported having it in their lifetime. All participants were given a cognitive assessment.

Compared with those with no history of severe hypoglycemia, participants who had experienced it in the last year had significantly lower overall cognitive scores, as well as significantly lower scores in the specific areas of language, executive function (the ability to complete tasks) and episodic (short-term) memory. Participants with a lifetime history of severe hypoglycemia also had significantly lower executive function.

Participants with severe hypoglycemia in the last year were over 3 times as likely as those with no history of severe hypoglycemia to qualify as having impaired overall cognitive function, as well as to have impaired language abilities, based on their assessment.

These results highlight how important it is to avoid severe hypoglycemia in older adults with type 1 diabetes to preserve cognitive function, the researchers concluded. It’s possible that older adults are uniquely susceptible to cognitive effects from hypoglycemia, but more research is needed to understand the differences between younger and older adults in this area.

Want to learn more about keeping your mind sharp? Read “Memory Fitness: How to Get It, How to Keep It” “Nine Tips to Keep Your Memory With Diabetes” and “Keeping Alzheimer’s Disease at Bay.”

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips on social media

A freelance health writer and editor based in Wisconsin, Phillips has a degree in government from Harvard University. He writes on a variety of topics, but is especially interested in the intersection of health and public policy.

 

The latest delivered straight to your inbox

Learn More

Newsletter

Subscribe to Stay Informed

Sign up for Free

Get the latest diabetes news and a free gift!

Learn More

Save Your Favorites

Save This Article