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Low Blood Sugar Doubles Dementia Risk

Episodes of low blood sugar may put an older person at risk for dementia. Researchers followed nearly 800 patients with diabetes. They were at least 70 years old at the start of the study, which lasted for 12 years.

Those who needed to be treated for hypoglycemia had double the risk of developing dementia during that time. Hypoglycemia is severe low blood sugar and often results from aggressive treatment for diabetes. If too many medications are taken or the dose of diabetes drugs is not adjusted properly, hypoglycemia is a common complication of treatment. Guidelines have often encouraged physicians to lower blood sugar into a normal range. But such recommendations sometimes result in more hypoglycemic bouts.

The brain relies on glucose as its energy source. When blood sugar falls too low, it leads to cognitive impairment. This is a vicious cycle since people with dementia have a much harder time managing their diabetes appropriately. The take-home message of this new research is that aggressive diabetes management that leads to hypoglycemic episodes may do more harm than good.

To learn more about keeping blood sugar under control naturally with less risk for bouts of hypoglycemia you may wish to consider our new Guide to Managing Diabetes. It contain common-sense approaches along with foods and supplements that can be helpful.

[JAMA Internal Medicine, June 10, 2013]

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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