Recently, more young people are developing type 2 diabetes. We know that diabetes can lead to serious health complications. For example, research shows that early-onset diabetes is linked to complications affecting small blood vessels, such as neuropathy (nerve damage), or retinopathy (eye damage). However, we are still unclear on the link between diabetes and dementia.

Type 2 diabetes in young people is a serious disease

New research from the United Kingdom suggests that, at age 70, patients with type 2 diabetes for more than 10 years have double the risk of dementia compared to patients without diabetes. This new study looked at data from the Whitehall II study, including over 10,000 men and women in the U.K. from 1985 to 1988. Over a follow-up of almost 32 years, there were 1,710 cases of diabetes and 639 cases of diagnosed dementia.

Diabetes and heart disease increase risk of dementia

The researchers found that, at age 70, every additional 5 years younger that a person was diagnosed with diabetes was tied to a 24% increased risk of dementia. For example, patients aged 55 who were diagnosed with diabetes within the past 5 years had double the risk for dementia. Those aged 60 who were diagnosed with diabetes 6 to 10 years prior saw a similar twofold increased risk. The greatest risk is for people with diabetes who also have had a stroke, coronary heart disease, or heart failure. These people have 5 times greater risk for developing dementia with age.


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