BrightFocus-funded research by Dr. Kristine Yaffe suggests that low blood sugar (also called hypoglycemia) caused by diabetes may increase the risk of developing dementia, while having mild cognitive impairment or dementia may increase the risk of having low blood sugar. This means that some people risk entering a vicious cycle in which hypoglycemia and cognitive impairment lead to each other.
In a previous study, Dr. Yaffe showed that poor diabetes management can lead to cognitive decline.
Certain medications known to carry a higher risk for hypoglycemia may be inappropriate for older adults with dementia or at risk for cognitive impairment, because they may be less able to effectively manage their treatments or recognize and respond appropriately to hypoglycemia. Doctors should consider the cognitive function of their older patients as part of their strategy for management of diabetes.