Type 2 diabetes is associated with a number of other health complications, but a new study appearing in the online edition of Radiology, and reported by HealthDay, suggests that people with type 2 diabetes may lose more brain volume than is expected as they age.
Although common wisdom is that the shrinkage of blood vessels is usually associated brain-related health conditions such as strokes or dementia, but with Type 2 diabetes as a factor, the actual cause may be related to how the brain handles excess sugar.
It appears that there may be two ways diabetes affects the brain, damage to blood vessels and brain-cell degeneration. Nearly 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. In Type 2 diabetes, the body often doesn’t use insulin efficiently, leading to an excess of both insulin and blood sugar.
The brain shrinkage seen in this study may be linked with how sugar is used by the brain. The study determined that the longer a patient had Type 2 diabetes, the more brain volume loss occurred, particularly in the gray matter. Gray matter includes areas of the brain involved in muscle control, seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision-making and self-control.
The study would suggest that clients closely monitor blood sugar levels and follow their physician’s orders on diabetes control. Home care aides can assist in ensuring compliance and assessing blood sugar levels to help reduce the potential harm to the brain. Communication with family and medical personnel is vital in sugar levels and medication compliance.
Richard Ueberfluss, PT