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Intensive blood glucose control therapy provides no added benefit against cognitive decline in older diabetics

August 20, 2017

"While these findings do not support the use of intensive therapy to reduce the possible effects of diabetes on the brains of older people, it remains important for older adults with type 2 diabetes to continue well-established regimens to keep their blood glucose levels under control," said lead author Lenore J. Launer, Ph.D., of the National Institute on Aging (NIA). "Cognitive health is of particular concern in type 2 diabetes. We will continue to investigate how managing blood sugar levels might be employed to protect people with diabetes from increased risk of cognitive decline as they age."

Wake Forest Baptist researcher Michael E. Miller, Ph.D., who served as the lead statistician for the trial, added that, while the study's findings do not support the use of intensive blood glucose control therapy beyond standard targets to preserve cognition, there are other things people with diabetes may be able to do to gain benefit.

"It is important to note that the average person in this study had type 2 diabetes for more than 8 years and had demonstrated difficulty in controlling their blood sugar," Williamson said. "Today, many people like this with diabetes spend lots of money, time and energy worrying about and trying to drive their blood sugar levels down lower than recommended goals, but we've already shown that using lots of medication to do this does not help prevent heart attacks. This result on memory gives added guidance to those people and some relief from that pressure to take more and more medication. Now, they will be able to focus their attention and money on other things to improve their overall health, such as diet, exercise and behavioral interventions that may work to preserve memory and reduce heart disease."

Source: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center