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High Blood Sugar Levels Tied to Risk for Alzheimer’s, Study Reports

Update Date: May 06, 2013 02:30 PM EDT

Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. The disease often occurs in the elderly population and since there are no known cures for the condition, preventative measures are vital. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer's afflicts nearly five percent of men and women between the ages of 65 and74. Roughly half of the elderly population over the age of 85 is estimated to have Alzheimer's. In a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Arizona, the research team examined the possible link between elevated blood sugars and Alzheimer's.

Researchers have known that Alzheimer's have been linked to conditions, such as genes and age. Now, more research is focused on other possible contributing factors, which include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Based from the fact that research has linked diabetes to Alzheimer's, Alfred Kaszniak, a psychology professor at the University of Arizona and co-author of the study, and his team wanted to examine elevated blood levels that were considered above average but not diabetic levels.

The researchers used fluorodeoxyglucose (18F) positron electron tomography, which prints out three-dimensional images of the brains' metabolic activity on 124 adults that were not diabetic and had a history of Alzheimer's. The participants' ages ranged from 47 to 68. Since the tomography technique requires participants to fast before the test, the participant's fasting serum glucose levels could be measures. The researchers found that elevated fasting serum glucose levels were linked to lowered metabolic activity in regions related to Alzheimer's.

The researchers discovered that elevated blood sugar levels increased the risk for Alzheimer's. The study, which looked into brain metabolic activity levels also suggests that using brain scans to determine a patient's risk for Alzheimer's could be a new method in the future.

The study was published in Neurology.

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