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The rising prevalence of dementia is a growing concern, but current countermeasures are proving insufficient to tackle the crisis. Part of the issue is that the cause of the disease remains largely unknown. There is evidence, however, that some factors could predispose individuals to dementia. According to a new body of research, having high blood sugar levels in your thirties could contribute to early brain decline.
The new research, published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, drew on data available for 4,932 people.
Findings revealed that having higher levels of HDL cholesterol in their 30s, and 40s lowered the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by about 15 percent.
Conversely, individuals with high levels of blood sugar were at higher risk of cognitive decline in later life.
The research was conducted with data obtained from participants of the Framingham Heart Study, who were examined in four-year intervals throughout most of their adult lives.
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The authors of the study said their findings suggest “careful management of cholesterol and glucose beginning in early adulthood can lower AD risk”.
First author Xialing Zhang, assistant professor of medicine, said: “These findings show for the first time that cardiovascular risk factors, including HDL which has not been consistently reported as a strong risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, contribute to future risk of AD starting as early as age 35.”
The findings appear to suggest that managing blood glucose effectively in early adulthood could shield the brain from decline in later life.
The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, characterised by a build-up of toxic proteins in the brain, known as amyloid and tau.
In previous work, researchers have shown that high blood sugar levels correlated strongly with higher levels of beta-amyloid in the brain.
This toxic protein can be found clumped together inside the organ, blocking signals between nerve cells.
The eventual outcome of this is a loss of communication that manifests as memory loss and cognitive deterioration.
Several studies have noted a connection between people with type 2 diabetes and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
In fact, some research has shown that the risk of developing dementia is 93 percent greater among individuals with type 1 diabetes.
Misplacing objects, and forgetting names and events are among the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
As the condition progresses, however, signs of brain decline may reflect in a sufferer’s physique, and could cause a loss of balance and coordination.
Symptoms of high blood sugar
As sugar builds up in the bloodstream, complications are likely to occur as a result of damage to the nerves and organs.
According to Harvard Health, these generally include blurry vision, intense thirst, frequent need to urinate, fatigue, and numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.
The health body adds: “High blood sugar can have an immediate effect, like blurry vision. It can also cause problems over time like heart disease and blindness.”
Correcting blood sugar levels can be done through a combination of diet and exercise, as both measures offer lasting effects.
Dietary rules for blood sugar control include eating less processed foods, choosing healthier carbohydrates, and cutting down on added sugar.
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