Do Alzheimer's Patients Who also have Diabetes decline more slowly?

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

According to a study from the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, it appears as though Alzheimer's patients with diabetes lose memory function more slowly than Alzheimer's patients without diabetes. This seems counter-intuitive given that diabetes increases the risk for both Alzheimer's and for memory loss.

In fact, this study published in the October 27, 2009 issues of Neurology, may not be as conclusive as it seems on the surface. The study followed 608 Alzheimer's patients, about ten percent of whom also had diabetes, and assessed their memory twice annually for the four year duration of the study. The results showed that the diabetes group fell about four tenths of a point on a 20-point cognitive scale every six months whereas the group with no diabetes fell about three times as much; about one and a quarter points at each interval.

However, a few limitations in the study prevent a tidy conclusion. Most glaringly, the cognition of those in the diabetes group may have benefited from the diabetes treatments they took in addition to the Alzheimer's treatments. It was also unclear if the diabetes group and the no-diabetes group had similar levels of cognition at the start of the study. If the diabetes group was more impaired (that is, had already declined more precipitously), then a slower ongoing descent would be considerably less interesting.


  1. Interesting study since I've read that diabetes can increase the chances of memory loss.

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