Evaluating your likely current (and near future) state of health means taking into account the risk factors — such as duration of suboptimally controlled diabetes — that affect you. Our medical diagnosis tool, The Analyst™, identifies major risk factors by asking the right questions.
Suboptimally controlled Diabetes: Estimate the total number of years that your fasting blood-sugar levels have been moderately elevated, in the 120-180mg/dL range.
Possible responses:→ Not applicable / never / don't know
→ Under 4 years
→ 4 to 6 years
→ 7 to 9 years
→ Over 9 years
According to the "Rotterdam Study" reported in the journal Neurology, diabetes mellitus may not only damage the function of the eyes, limbs, kidneys, and heart – it may also impair the function of the brain and hasten the process of senile dementia.
The Rotterdam Study is a large, ongoing prospective analysis which tracked dysglycemia and dementia in over 6,000 individuals over age 55. The researchers found that diabetes mellitus nearly doubles the risk of developing both vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
A related editorial called Alzheimer's a possible "brain-type diabetes." Besides damaging important blood vessel networks and increasing the risk of small "silent" strokes deep inside the brain, dysglycemia may be directly involved in the development of the neurofibrillary tangles, the clumping of nerves and fiber tissue inside the brain characteristic of Alzheimer's.
The researchers noted that advanced glycation end products (AGE), proteins damaged by chronically high blood sugar levels, are commonly found inside these tangles. "In brains of AD patients the receptor for AGE appears overexpressed," they noted. "Activation of this receptor leads to increased oxidative stress that may result in cellular damage."
Diabetes also disrupts insulin-signaling to other cells in the body. This altered signaling may increase the activity of a neuronal enzyme that stimulates phosphorylated tau proteins to build up, a key trigger mechanism cited as one of the earliest signs of Alzheimer's.
Diabetes mellitus is a major cause of chronic renal failure. In Singapore, statistics have shown that out of the 500 newly diagnosed kidney failure patients each year, 50% were caused by diabetes and 9% were caused by hypertension. When sugar levels rise enough to spill into the urine, as in diabetes, blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged. This condition is known as diabetic nephropathy. Symptoms related to kidney failure usually occur only in late stages of the disease, when kidney function has diminished to less than 25% of normal capacity. For many years before that point, kidney disease of diabetes exists as a silent process.
Gallstones may progress more rapidly in patients with diabetes, who tend to suffer worse infections.
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause retinopathy, a progressive disease that can lead to complete blindness. The most effective course of prevention and treatment is to control the underlying disease. If you have diabetes, see your ophthalmologist annually and maintain good control of your blood sugar.
Hypertension, diabetes and heart disease are risk factors for reduced circulation in the brain, sometimes called ischemic vascular dementia (IVD).