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Loss of brain matter found in patients with Type 2 diabetes
04-30-2014

Brain scans are helpful diagnostic tools.A new link has been found between Type 2 diabetes and brain degeneration. According to researchers, the disease has more serious effects on the brain than previously thought.

The findings suggest that more severe diabetes may be linked to brain atrophy.

“What the study showed was that in patients who have diabetes, there are two separate insults to the brain,” said lead author Dr. R. Nick Bryan, professor of radiology at the Perleman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The first threat is vascular disease, which has always been associated with diabetes.

“Our work found an additional direct insult resulting in neurodegeneration, somewhat like in Alzheimer’s,” said Bryan.

What he’s referring to is a loss of brain volume.

For the study, researchers used MRI technology to look at the brain structure of over 600 patients who’d had diabetes for about 10 years. The average patient age was 62. The images revealed that a longer duration of diabetes was associated with more severe loss of brain volume. According to Bryan, the findings only reemphasize that diabetes is a serious disease that has very adverse effects on the brain.

“Patients with diabetes need to be very aggressive and responsive in following their physician’s medical care to prevent and diminish these adverse effects,” he said.

The study also suggests that people with long-term Type 2 diabetes are more likely to experience a decline in cognition and thinking ability as they age.

The findings lead researchers to believe that for every 10 years of diabetes duration, the brain appears roughly two years older than that of a person without diabetes, reported Fox News.

Bryan and his team plan on investigating the effect of diabetes treatments on brain volume loss. More specifically, he hopes to determine if this loss can be decreased by aggressively treating diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is the most commonly diagnosed form of the disease. It occurs when the body produces an insufficient amount of insulin. Overweight and obese individuals are at particularly higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In some cases, daily exercise, healthy food choices and regular monitoring of blood glucose levels can help in managing the condition.

By Marianne Hayes